I know it’s been a while since I have written. We started homeschool and before that we had an amazing week in Florida and I just haven’t been able to catch up. Plus I keep pondering this post!
So first off I’d like to share a little bit more about what we were doing in NYC. I’m not sure if it was made clear in the other posts. There were days that we set up on a street corner and put on red smocks that said “Prayer Changes Things.” We would stand there and ask people as they walked by if we could pray with them. Many people would just walk past. Some would say no thanks, others were very rude, and yet others would stop and give you their request and you would pray with them. Then I might ask them if I could share with them a Story. I might say something like…. God created the whole world. In Genesis 1:1 it tells us that God created the heavens and the earth and everything was perfect and meant to work together in harmony. Then Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the tree in the garden but they disobeyed. They ate of the fruit of the tree and as a consequence sin entered the world and that’s why we have all this bad stuff happening in the world. So we wonder if there is any hope. We are in need of a savior. God sent Jesus, his one and only son. He died on the cross for our sin and his blood covered those sins so that those who ever believes in him can live forever in heaven with him. He made this promise many years ago and kept this promise to us. One day all things will be made new and those who believe in Him will live forever with God. So, I may add in some more details depending on the person I was talking to or emphasize one part of it over another.
Now I realize this seems really basic but for years and years I thought I was a Christian. I thought that I wasn’t as bad as those around me. I was a good kid and listened to my parents and didn’t mess around or drink or smoke. I didn’t see a need! It wasn’t until I was married that I looked at my husband and said. How do I know that I’m going to heaven? I never really understood the gospel! It’s so simple so very, very simple but yet I missed it. There is nothing I can do to earn salvation. No amount of good was going to get me to heaven. I simply had to admit that I was a sinner and in need of a savior. I wanted to start there because I’m sure I’m not the only person that had missed this.
Another part of the trip was asking people four survey questions to tease out what their beliefs were and you could tell that some people knew parts but not the whole story and then others had no parts of the story at all. Of course that’s expected if they aren’t a believer but yet there were so many people that were “believers” that could not articulate the gospel. For 18 years or more I believed that I was a Christian but I never really understood what that meant. For me it meant someone who went to church and was nice to others. You may have noticed that I highlighted some words above. The Story trains us to touch on these words and they act as a guide as we share the gospel. God, creation, harmony, disobedience, consequence, need, promise made, promise kept, all things new, forever with God. The Story works at making the gospel clear and easy to share. They have wonderful resources available and their video is available in several languages. They really are a remarkable ministry and it’s interesting to hear all that they are doing.
So now what are my thoughts from the week….
1) We are all full of excuses! I dislike bringing up things like this, yet I find it to be true. I was told many times by various people that they couldn’t do what we were going to do. Well I will tell you everyone most certainly can. Even someone that is sick or disabled can. I certainly could go to Africa and be a missionary but I don’t want to! Bottom line. I can use any excuse and even a “Christian” excuse like “I wasn’t called” but bottom line is I have NO excuse. As I stood on the street corner I could certainly choose to not open my mouth or even say hi to anyone and just pray someone would come up to me. But it was interesting that when you did ask, how many people stopped. When we were surveying people it was easy to walk by people and make an excuse like “They are too busy,” “They are on their phone,” “They look like they are relaxing.” But think of it this way. If I got paid a pretty penny for each survey that got completed, wouldn’t I ask every single person I encountered? Why don’t I share the gospel at home? Because I care more about what those people think of me than I do what God thinks. I don’t want people to look at me or run the other direction when they see me because I might ask to pray with them. What it comes down to: “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death , to the other a fragrance of life to life.” 2 Corinthians 2:16 It’s simply a choice that I don’t open my mouth. NO EXCUSES.
2) We are all too comfortable! Oh how I love routine and the known. How I love my schedules and meal plans. They bring comfort and stability to my life. But with comfort comes laziness and we can become stagnant. In order to grow we must be uncomfortable. We must step beyond our comfort zone and do things that cause us unease. I was certainly uncomfortable all week. Lack of sleep, not eating the kinds of foods I would like to every day and not eating at my usual times. Not to mention the heat and standing on our feet for hours each day on the hard concrete. We were uncomfortable and then we had to open our mouths to complete strangers and ask to pray with them? We had to ask people hard questions about their worldview? THAT was the easy part. The harder part is opening my mouth to those that I will see day in and day out. See if I totally made a fool of myself that person walked away and the chances of seeing them again were slim to none. But if a conversation goes badly with a neighbor? I have to see that person every, single, day! Talk about uncomfortable.
3) We all need to sacrifice more! I get bent out of shape when something goes wrong in my day like something breaks, or maybe one of the kids makes a mess. I can’t help out a friend because that would mean that it messes with my schedule. I can’t make a meal for that person because they live too far away and man they are picky eaters. Working and living for Christ is not convenient. It’s not like everything is going to fall in our laps because we are believers and certainly going to church and serving is not going to be convenient. In order to pour into people’s lives we are going to have to move things around in our schedules. We are going to have to give up some of what we want to do in order to do His work. I may not get a nap or I may have to make dinner at a later time than usual to serve someone else. I need to be willing to sacrifice for others.
4) The need is very great! I thought I knew about those that are lost and in need. I’ve worked in a high poverty school. I’ve seen the homeless on the street but when you see it in NYC there is just so much of it. At one point I watched a homeless man walk down the street and stop and pick up a napkin off the street, wipe his nose and throw it back on the street. He was holding up his shorts which were black from dirt and torn completely down one side with no underwear on. The need is so great I’m not even sure what I could give that man. We think it’s as easy as telling them to get a job but when there are so many strikes against you and you have NO support how do you get back on your feet. Many of us are spoiled and we have family members that watch our kids for free or give us money when needed. These people have nothing. Absolutely nothing! So many people are mentally ill. Yet there is a whole other camp of people that “look” like they have it all together yet they are just waiting to fall apart inside. How did we all get to be like this? I don’t think the answers are easy but more complex and take time. We need to be very careful before we form an opinion and just think we have all the answers.
5) We need to take more time to reflect! Thinking about the world and what’s going on makes us uncomfortable. Thinking about how things will end or where we will go makes us uneasy. No one wants to think about these difficult questions and form an opinion. I think sometimes when we stop long enough we don’t like what we see. It makes us upset or angry and so we stay busy. By staying busy or choosing not to think about it we don’t have to deal with it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to go away.
6) Satan uses whatever he can to attack and distract! What drives you crazy? What makes you angry? What sets your off or wears you down? Did you ever think that maybe those things come from Satan. He wants you to believe that you can’t do it. He wants churches to fight and break apart. Don’t you see? And what do we all do… we join in and help. Our sin nature gets in the way and we allow it to work against us and His kingdom. But we can recognize it and put a stop to it. Reflect on the things that Satan uses to distract you and don’t allow him to.
Each day we have a choice. Each day we choose to be obedient or do what we want. Each day we can choose joy or we can choose anger and discontent. What are you going to choose today?