Reaching Others for Christ and Keeping Earth Temporary
Reaching Others for Christ and Keeping Earth Temporary
Friday evening, March 24th, 2017 proved to be cold and snowy with dangerous roads. When we heard from some calling out due to the road conditions, Mark Adolphsen and I reminded each other that it is God who has control of the weather and is sovereign over all things, including this gathering. What a testimony the weather did end up providing because, with many praying from their homes and hospital beds, another 45 people (ages 1 to 91 from over half-a-dozen churches) ventured out in the snow to Answer The Call!
Think of what that speaks to the schools that we gathered in support of!
What Breaks Your Heart?
In that cafeteria at Oceanside East High School, we addressed the group that gathered there and opened with the story of God's leading: how He had gone before us and prepared the way so that when we stepped through the doors of the local schools in obedience, the hearts of the principals were ready to receive the message we carried. The stories of God working in these schools stir excitement...but they should stir something else too.
When I think of the many people and years spent in prayer, or concern, for the school I can't help but ask the question: Why haven't we walked through the door sooner?
One Pastor, who couldn't make it Friday night, said that he was ashamed - ashamed of his assumption that this was another ecumenical work, because he didn't think that the Gospel could go into the school. I think, of everyone I talked to, his was one of the most encouraging responses. His is a heart that is broken and recognizes that we have not held to a firm belief in the power of the Gospel for everyone through every door! Rom 1:16
We shared our burden with those gathered and our hope for broken hearts toward these areas:
If we don't go into our communities with tears stained faces from hearts truly broken for the lost, they are not going to hear the wonderful, but hard message we carry. Jeremiah 8:21 We need to go, desperate to help them find the only One that can provide healing. Psalm 147:1-6
"The greatest tragedy of our time is that the situation is desperate but the saints are not."
These are our kids!
Esther McKay, who works as the Technology Integrator for the high school, gave us all a good, full picture of what life is like within the school walls. She did well in drawing us in to see the caring hearts of teen boys, the tenacity of the drama team to repeatedly win trophies for their school, the camaraderie of the students at sports events and in difficult times, the humanness of each person within the school walls - which for some I think was important as we tend to demonize those we don't relate to or know much about. Matt 9:36
She also spent some time letting us in to the culture that is unlike ours, the mannerisms and lifestyles that would be disrespectful at best and willfully sinful at the worst. The idea was laid out clearly that many of these students, and teachers, don't really know who Jesus is, and that some would say they don't really care. 2 Cor 4:3-4
Many are heading on a path that will lead to self-destruction and, as all sin does, will pull many down with them. If we as the church do not step in and become a presence in our communities how will they know anything of faith, hope and love? Rom 5:6-8
While many in the church have not been desperate enough, Amy Carmichael reminds us that someone else has. "Satan is so much more earnest than we are. He buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost."
He is seeking these kids like a starving lion who will not give up until he has been thrown into the fire. 1 Pet 5:8
We need to open our hearts to the kids around us, desiring to see them walk in the truth of God's Word just as much as our own children. How many of you would leave your kids to the teaching and influence of the world without ever telling them the beautiful message of forgiveness and grace that is found in Jesus? These kids in our communities - the kids who may one day marry our biological children or grandchildren, who may work for us, who may be our politicians - these are our kids. Let's see that they hear the message of our Savior! 1 John 3:1
Broken People on Their Knees
This has been said so many times that I think it has lost it's effect on many of us, but let's ask God to help us hear it afresh: "if my people, who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land" 2 Chronicles 7:14 Understanding the context of national Israel, there is still a valid principle here. We read so much throughout scripture directing us to pray, to get on our knees in humbleness of heart and seek the only One who can heal this land.
In the picture above you can see the heads bowed, reflecting the hearts of God's people who took this message to heart and asked for forgiveness, pleaded for salvation and praised for opportunity!
Do Not Lose Heart!
As Christians we are both the happiest and saddest of all people. We carry within us the Spirit of the Living God and the realization of those who do not! The Apostle Paul said:
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Cor 4:16-18
I think Jon Bloom summarizes all this well when he says:
"These kinds of distress are to be desired, not delivered from, for they are not evils, but evidences of grace in the soul. They are the marks of Christ-like love. Therefore, we must plead with God:
Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my distress for perishing unbelievers, the persecuted church, and destitute poor and my resolve to do what I can to bring them deliverance and relief through the whole gospel of Christ."
May God be glorified in you today as you seek to share the Gospel with those around you in word and deed!
* For further reading on this subject of serving from a broken heart, you can read a message by Rick Ezell here and an article by Jon Bloom here.
** While we may have found a linked article or resource helpful in this article, the sharing of it should not be taken as promoting or approving of the writer, organization, or hosting website and may not reflect the views or opinions of all those at MMOC.
For more on the above research from Barna click on the picture.
You can also find some more recent research on how the church can help in the schools here.
Below are lyrics and video links for a couple of songs we hope will encourage you in this area of ministering to the lost from a heart of brokenness: