Report for duty

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.  2 Timothy 2:4

The soldier who is actively engaged in combat thinks only of the battle.  It is life or death, not only for himself, but for his fellow soldiers and the land he is fighting for.  There is much at stake, so his life is focused, disciplined and courageous.  There is a great loyalty that motivates him.  There is a cause greater than himself, and he has given himself fully to it.  His whole life has been so ordered that he might be most useful and available to those he is serving.

It is a good analogy for us….the picture of a soldier.  Because we too, as followers of Jesus, deal with life and death realities.  Lives are depending upon us.  God has chosen to use His church to reach the world with the gospel….there is no backup plan.  And should we fail to accommodate our lives to the progression of this heavenly kingdom on earth, many…..so very many, will neither hear, nor avail themselves of God’s great gift of grace through Jesus Christ.

It is good to go to church, but it is not enough to simply sit on a pew.  We must be the church.

It is good to pray, but it is not enough to say reverent words.  We must move heaven with our prayers.

It is good to worship, but it is not enough to sing our songs.  We must encounter the heart of God.

Otherwise we will not go and they will not hear.

Many things will present themselves as obstacles: the cares and troubles of this life….. the emotional disruptions we face due to the irritations, hurts and offenses caused by others….. our own fears, inadequacies and weaknesses..… but what do any of these have to do with the gospel?  The mission has not changed.

It is time to report for duty.  Our Commander-in-Chief has given the command.  Our weapons are unstoppable and victory is assured.  Sitting on the sidelines of the conflict has never been a place of safety, child of God.  Engage the heart of God….and then engage in the warfare.

Lives in the balance

Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant.  Luke 7:1-3

A life was in the balance.  Someone was at the point of death, someone heard about Jesus, and there was life instead of death.  This scenario plays out over and over all across the earth every day.  Multitudes are dead in their transgressions and sin, the enemy of their souls patiently waiting for their last day to claim his prize.  But then someone comes with the message of the gospel…..the good news that instead of death, you can have life through Jesus, abundant and eternal.  And to those who receive Him, the power of death is broken!

But someone must go.  Someone must tell.  Somewhere around you today, a life is in the balance.

Live after Five Outreach – Friday May, 2015

There were two women who passed by us on the sidewalk several times Friday afternoon. What caught my attention about them was how entirely they were trying to look like men. I prayed a simple prayer in my heart for them, that God would reveal Himself to them and help them to understand who He is and who they are.  A little while later they were passing by on the sidewalk again and this time one of them headed directly for me. I braced myself, expecting her to angrily confront me concerning what Christians believe about homosexuality. But instead she asked me where I went to church. I told her and she said she thought she had seen me before and we discovered that we had gone to the same church more than 10 years ago.  She told me how she had walked with Jesus for twenty years, being very zealous for Him, until her godly husband died, leaving her in a place of sorrow and confusion.  And then she confessed “ after he died, I went down a path that I knew I shouldn’t have gone down”.   With tears she said God had been dealing with her heart. I only had a few brief moments to offer her some encouragement to return to Jesus. Still crying she said “thank you for what you’re doing”, hugged me and walked away down the sidewalk.   I hadn’t given her a gospel tract. I hadn’t even preached the gospel to her.  But just standing on the sidewalk for Jesus was all God needed in that moment to speak to a precious soul that had strayed away.

Local Outreach – March 27, 2015

Yesterday afternoon we did our first outreach at an LSU baseball game. It’s a great opportunity to put the gospel message into the hands of many people in a short period of time, which we are always glad to do. But we are very watchful for opportunities to speak to people. Yesterday a precious young lady, a high school senior, stopped to talk to Charles for a few minutes. I could hear bits and pieces of their conversation from where I was standing and was very disturbed to hear that her family had been asked to leave their church after her mother was divorced. They hadn’t really been involved in church since then. She walked off shortly afterwards, but passed by us again later that afternoon. I stopped her to tell her how sorry I was that her family had been treated that way, that I was also divorced but had found forgiveness in Jesus and love from His people. It broke my heart to think of her and her mom feeling thrown away by God because of how they had been treated by church people. God forbid that we should be the reason people don’t find their way to Him. It matters how we treat people.

Later that night we were on Third Street and within a few minutes of getting there a college student stopped to talk when I handed him a gospel tract. He had been raised to believe in God but had strayed away from any interest in Him. At LSU he had listened to the people who came to preach at Free Speech Alley, wanting to know truth, but very turned off by the manner in which the preachers dealt with people, even when they only wanted to ask them questions. Even though he did not disagree with their message, he wanted no part of something that was presented in such a way that it seemed so angry and hateful. He and his girlfriend had been talking about spiritual things….. they are seeking and wide open to Jesus right now. And being pushed away by people who claim to represent Him. It matters how we treat people.

Born again believers…..we represent Jesus Christ on this earth. It matters how we treat people.

Third Street Outreach – January 2, 2015

Although there were several people who stopped to talk, the one who is on my heart the most is the one who didn’t. I was sharing the gospel with someone and I saw a woman on the sidewalk with her husband. She was about my age and looked like she’d had a few drinks. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that she had stopped and was watching me. When my conversation ended she was standing on the edge of the sidewalk just a few feet away from me. She avoided making eye contact with me but she kept glancing my way. So I walked over and handed a gospel tract to her. She looked at the tract, then back at me and said “this is a sign”. She didn’t want to talk to me, but as she was walking away with her husband she looked at me one more time, still holding the tract, and said again “this is a sign.” Maybe the Lord will use a little piece of paper to get this woman’s attention.

A short time later a group of three guys walked by, full of tattoos. What I found out shortly afterwards was that they were also full of the Holy Ghost! They were downtown passing out tracts and evangelizing and I was so encouraged to hear about the transformation Jesus had brought to their lives. Delivered from addiction and the occult, these young men were absolutely on fire and sold out for Jesus and believing for revival in our city! Thank You Jesus!

Third Street Outreach – Friday October 10th

I had been on Third Street for about thirty minutes when I noticed a young man walking unsteadily down the sidewalk with the police following behind him, watching him. He passed by me and overturned one of the metal garbage cans into the street. (The garbage cans are very heavy and it took two men to set it back upright). As he continued to walk down the street he was screaming and cursing at the police officers until he disappeared from sight. I silently prayed that God would touch his heart and bring him back so I could talk to him. Less than an hour later he was back and instead of passing by me, he walked right up to me and stood there looking at me. So, assuming that he wanted to hear the gospel, I spent the next twenty minutes telling him about our wonderful Jesus and how desperately he needed Him. He listened so very attentively and when our conversation was over he walked away meek as a little lamb, thanking me for talking to him. Please pray for this young man.

Third Street – Friday Night, August 8, 2014

I was walking across Third Street tonight to get to my normal spot when my path crossed that of a young man named Brian who was walking down the sidewalk. I gave him a gospel tract; he looked at it for a minute, and then apologized to me for his drunken state. As I talked to him about Jesus, I learned that he was raised by a Pentecostal grandmother. At fourteen years old he’d had a very real experience with the Lord, but he soon yielded to peer pressure and walked away from the Lord. He felt that it was no coincidence that I walked up to talk to him. I agreed with him that it absolutely was not, because I had prayed before I went out to Third Street that night that God would put people in my path who had wandered away from Him. His heart was very tender as he talked about his belief that he had a calling on his life from the Lord. I told Brian that I believed that this same Jesus he had walked away from at fourteen was now inviting him to come back. “He still loves you Brian. He hasn’t changed His mind about that.” There were tears in his eyes as he thanked me repeatedly for talking to him. Please pray for this young man. Even now, he is in the valley of decision.

Stories from the streets – May 16-17, 2014

Live after Five – May 16, 2014

After handing out tracts for a while, I sat down for a few minutes to pray and rest. A man passing by made a comment about the loud music and I saw this as an excellent opportunity to tell him that I wasn’t there for the music, but to tell people about Jesus. At first his face twisted in anger and he began to walk off. But I called out after him and asked him to tell me why that made him so angry. And surprisingly, he did. He had been in church for 30 years. When his marriage ended, he felt judged and rejected by the church. So 10 years ago he walked away….from church, from salvation, from Jesus. There was a hardness to his face as he said “I know what the book says and I’m not gonna do it and I’m not gonna be a hypocrite about it.” Throughout our conversation he was polite but there seemed to be a boiling anger just beneath the surface. I asked him if he understood what his decision to walk away from Jesus meant in terms of eternal consequences. He said he knew he was going to hell but he wasn’t worried about that right now. But I know there will be a day when it will matter to him more than anything. He wouldn’t give me his name but God knows who he is. Please pray that he would come to repentance and faith in Christ and that his heart would be healed from the wounds of the past.

 

Third Street Outreach – May 16, 2014

Last night on Third Street I talked to a man named Lee. He introduced himself as a Christian wanna-be. He said that he wanted to be a Christian but just could not do what Jesus required. I asked what things he was talking about and he responded that he couldn’t sell everything he had and give it away to follow Jesus. Somehow in his mind, he was convinced that the only way to be a Christian was to own nothing. I shared verse after verse from the Bible with him , but he refused to accept what was plainly stated in the word of God. When I finished talking to Lee I leaned up against a building and took a few minutes to pray for him. Looking up at the patches of beautiful night sky that I could see between the downtown buildings, my heart filled with great joy as I thanked The Lord for grace. Wonderful grace! What peace it brings to know that it is all of grace. Please pray that Lee would realize that his own works will never be enough and that only the work of Jesus on the cross is sufficient to save.

 

Bus Station – May 17, 2014

Today at the bus station I met Justin. He has traveled all over the country working as a contractor, but when he got to Baton Rouge last week he found out that he couldn’t work without a TWIC card. Now he finds himself without a place to stay and was forced to pawn the few belongings he brought with him in order to pay for a bed in the local homeless shelter. He has been brought for a moment to a place in life he never thought he would be and it has humbled him. Earlier in his life he had made a profession of faith in Christ but admitted that he had strayed away from that. As we talked he seemed to understand that there was nothing random in the seeming randomness of somebody coming up to him to talk about Jesus at this particular point in his life. Please pray that Justin would respond to God’s call to come to a place of full commitment of his life to Christ.

As I was driving home from the bus station, I passed an Islamic mosque and a Buddhist temple. And it was yet another reminder, on this beautiful sunshiny day, of how much darkness, confusion and deception there is in our city. They will live and die in that darkness unless we bring them the light of the gospel. It is their only hope.

A worthy life

I wonder how many things which we occupy our time with in this life, things that seem so very important and necessary now, will seem trivial and meaningless when we stand before the Lord Jesus. Life is short and these few years of our pilgrimage here are all we have been given to make Jesus known to a world that perishes without Him. It seems only fitting that no other task should so occupy our time, our attention and our prayers as this great work of spreading the gospel.

 

“What is the secret to great living? Entire separation to Christ and devotion to Him. Thus speaks every man and woman whose life has made more than a passing flicker in the spiritual realm. It is the life that has no time for trifling that counts. “ Amy Carmichael