Are you in?

‘Must be the manager who’s taking orders,’ I thought, in response to the rich male voice that confidently thanked me and told me the price of my order. I drove forward to the drive-up window, automatically held out my card and knew I was looking at the owner of the voice as soon as he very pleasantly said, “Hello!”

As I handed him my card, I thought, ‘He can’t be the manager’! I continued to watch him through the window as he took another order, all the while smiling. He was very tall and slightly awkward, as if he wasn’t quite comfortable in the obviously new uniform he was wearing; and he had a huge smile–not at all the sort of person I was expecting. At once, I was ashamed of myself for so quickly passing judgment on the young man, who obviously was manager material even if he didn’t look like it.

A rush of questions entered my mind. Was he still in school? How did he become so well spoken? Was he doing anything with that voice? Did he try out for school plays? Did he get passed over for leading roles? Were his parents proud of him?

I smiled as the window opened and he handed me my card and receipt. And then, picking up the bag as if it held a gourmet dinner, he said in that deep baritone voice, “And here’s your order. I hope you enjoy it!”

His smile was genuine, as he made eye contact, and I saw the boy/man and knew what I should say. “You have a lovely voice and such a nice manner. I just wanted you to know I appreciate it,” I said.

Obviously taken aback, he put his hands to his heart and said, “Oh, thank you. You’ve made my day!” He just stood there smiling as I pulled away, and I thanked God for the opportunity to give him what God knew he needed, affirmation. 

On the way home, I thought about the Great Commission, how Jesus said we were to go into all the world and tell people about Him and teach them to follow Him. The command that Jesus left us with isn’t about saving ourselves for some huge, evangelistic effort in the future but is about going out into our own world and spreading the Love of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet.

It’s about seeing through the eyes of Jesus the man behind the Quik Mart counter,  the teenager corralling the carts at WalMart, the mom with three grumpy kids at the grocery. It’s about acknowledging the silent frustration of the mother whose child won’t be quieted on the plane, the pain of the co-worker who confides his wife has left him, or the courtesy of an awkward young man at the drive-up.

It’s about caring… and connection. It’s about making an effort to just be Jesus to the person who needs you to be kind, or say ‘well done’ or ‘I remember how hard it was to shop with my kids.’ And if we have no words, it’s about lifting harried mothers and broken-hearted husbands to the Father, asking Him to comfort them and meet their needs.

I have a feeling we would just be dumbstruck at the number of opportunities to make a difference for the Kingdom of God that we miss each day. And why? Three reasons immediately come to mind: (1) we’re too self-obsessed with what’s happening in our own lives to recognize an opportunity when we’re given one; (2) we’re too concerned about what someone might think; or, God forbid, (3) we simply don’t care.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you may think it doesn’t matter whether Jesus is coming sooner or later, because you’re good, you’re in! But it does matter, because you have a responsibility to God to fulfill the Great Commission. If you’re too busy, too distracted, too tired, too selfish, or too scared to make waves, you might want to rethink your relationship with Christ, starting with this question, ‘Do I have one?’

Being a good person isn’t going to cut it–for you or your friends and family. Being baptized/confirmed/dedicated or going to church every Sunday isn’t enough; and, likewise, living in a ‘Christian’ nation or being a part of a ‘Christian’ family will not guarantee you eternity in Heaven. The only thing that will is trusting God for your salvation.

If you’ve never made a decision for Christ, here’s a simple prayer you can pray. “Father, I know I’ve sinned against You and deserve punishment, but Jesus took the punishment for me when He died on the cross. I ask You to forgive me, and I put my trust in You for my salvation. Thank you for forgiving me and accepting me as Your Child.” Amen

The Great Commission, as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, is one of the most recognizable portions of scripture.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It’s essentially the marching orders of the true Church, comprised of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and have made Him the Lord of their lives. It’s not a suggestion but a commandment that Jesus gave to every person–not just pastors and ministers, priests and missionaries–but everyone who would follow Him.

Just as Jesus revealed God to us, we are to reveal God to others because we have Jesus in us. We are to become more like Christ every day, and the way we do that is by reading His Word and obeying it. We are God’s possession–He created us and He owns us. We are to be His witnesses and the testimony of who He is.

It’s pretty obvious that the Enemy of our souls is working overtime these days. He wants to take as many people with him, because he knows his days on this earth are numbered. Unfortunately, the Enemy pretty much has free rein in society today, even in the Church where the power of the Gospel is being replaced by political correctness.  Not offending anyone’s beliefs for fear they won’t come back has become the unwritten policy of a growing number of churches, who want to be known as inclusive in order to keep the church doors open on Sunday morning.

It is the Truth that sets one free to be the person God created him or her to be. And if we don’t speak the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only in our places of worship but in our daily lives, who will?

I’m on my way to Heaven, and I want to take as many people with me as I can. God has commissioned every believer to do just that. Will you? Listen to this paraphrase of the Great Commission from The Message:

Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”


Are you in?

There in that place…

The days rush by, and I think about my grandnephew, whose days are unending, his nights just long enough to remember the tilled fields of spring followed by the green expanse of crops pulsating in summer’s breezes, broken only by the creek winding through our land connecting farm to farm where family wait for his return.

There in that place where even subtle sins are noted, he is lost amidst the many who are watched day and night yet never known beyond surveillance screens that reveal everything yet nothing of the boy he was when he became a man when he was barely more that just a boy.

Like any child who looks for love, he found it in the gentle words of his grandfather, who taught him how to put together and take apart the toys of boyhood one block at a time. And, as he grew older, he watched and learned under the gaze of his almost-dad, who was not there when the judge handed down the ruling that took him away from everything he loved.

He had looked for love so many times in the circle of other wounded children grown up, who saw each other through the glazed eyes of alcohol-induced laughter that hardly hid the pain that roiled deep inside. And the alcohol that took him away from the pain tore the best friend he had ever had from his days and his nights where now the constant glare of prison lights robbed him of the dreams he longed for.

He made himself remember the fresh smell of rain on tilled fields, the familiar aroma of oil and grease in his grandpa’s shop, the joyous atmosphere of family dinners and the sound of his mom’s laughter, the combine’s roar and the sound of the grain swirling up the auger to the bins. He thought of the clicking sounds Grandpa would make as they waited for their plates of BBQ to come at noon and the nudges in greeting from friends and farmers who filled the room from 12 to 1.

He remembered so much and then could take no more and waited in the still dorm as snoring ceased and breaths were held, as the dreaded prospect of one more endless day began.

O, Holy Father, just as Your Son burst forth from the grave, invade that stark place with the reality of Your Presence. Break into hearts and flood them with Your Perfect Love. Shatter the walls that conceal the men you created them to be, and destroy the plans of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy their very lives. Birth hope in jaded hearts this day, and set them aflame for You.

It’s time…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people come into our lives, with many staying but most around only for perhaps a season or maybe two before moving on. People who we’ve worked with, gone to different churches with, who’ve been our neighbors at one time or maybe even close friends who, one day, are no longer in our sphere of influence.

When we’re really following Christ, which, for me means intentionally doing what I know He would do, do we pay attention to the moments God gives us each day to reach out physically to bless someone, even if it’s just to speak a word of encouragement? You know the ones I’m talking about–the ones we put on our prayer list and stand with in faith, believing for healed marriages, rescued children, restored health, and work opportunities. 

Most of the time we’re not there when the prayers are answered, but we continue to ask in faith, believing that God will finish the work He began. I like how Paul said it in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are fellow workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Am I doing my part, or am I so busy that opportunities to plant and water come and go without my notice? Seriously, am I really a fellow-worker in God’s service? Who is standing in my field? Who is there in my building? Who is God telling me to encourage? Don’t you think it’s time we paid attention? We have this day, this moment in time to make a difference. Will we?

What is it you have for me?

What is it that you have for me? I cannot help but wonder.
I do not want drama, jealousy, offense, and a hundred other negative emotions bombarding my happiness, and so I surrender to whatever it is you want for me,
knowing my will and yours will be one.

Where will I be?
In a tiny cottage where the blue
Of living waters beckons me each morning,
Thoughts of you captured in print for others to see?

You know, Lord, and somehow that is enough to stop my wondering
Short of conjecture that serves no purpose.
And so I put my trust in you
Who knows my True North
And the path that leads me there.

Give mercy this day, I hear you say,
The same unmerited favor given to you.
Slip into her shoes and walk with her—
In thought, pray
In word, build her up
In deed, be His hands, His feet.
Just be Jesus.
Quietly, confidently, just be Jesus!

And be not weary in well doing—let us not get tired of doing the right thing, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9