Friday, August 1, 2014

Wrong Voice

Now that's a good hubby I'd say!
We had just finished a long photo shoot with "pants" and needed to pick something up at the store before we continued the session.  Oh you don’t know what I’m referring to with “pants” … 

July 27th was/is “National Take Your Pants for A Walk Day” and I took it literally.  Unfortunately, those around me often get sucked into my world resulting in going on a journey they didn’t expect.  It’s a colorful place full of unusual but interesting quests that I don’t like doing alone.

I once had a student tell me, “You get us to do stuff we don’t want to do, but in the end it’s OK.”  Isn’t that what a teacher is supposed to do? My job is to get students or adults to explore new areas developing their gifts to reach their potential.

Anyway, the teacher part of me is always active out of the classroom.  You can ask my husband about this, because he does the funniest, weird things for and with me that I’d venture to say some wouldn’t.  That’s where this story begins …

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It was really hot, in the 90’s by Sunday afternoon and we needed a break.  I was almost finished taking photographs with “pants” for a children’s story I am writing, when we stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things before we continued shooting.  We even joked how we couldn't leave “pants” in the car with the windows closed. (I know it’s strange, but I warned you and you kept reading.) Hubby dropped me off at the main entrance so I didn’t have to walk in the heat.
With my suitcase tossed over my shoulder (my pocketbook that weighs a ton) I made my way into the store grabbing a shopping cart for my “luggage”.  Pushing my cart just past the front of the store, I stopped alongside the first food section to wait for my husband.
There I was comfortably leaning forward on the cart with my left leg propped up on the underneath bracket, when a gentleman leaving the store said this in passing. “God bless you.  Still resting in the same position I smiled and said, “Thank You.”
Well you would have thought I invited him over for coffee and pie, because he whipped around and was about to make himself at home in conversation.  Mind you he had already passed me heading out the door when he turned around and came up from behind me. 

Like a contortionist, he was bent over with his body parts trailing and popped his head right in my face, “Are you a Christian?”  Then it happened, he became uncorked and the trial for Jesus started.
Not Such a Revelation
Trying to engage me in conversation he slowly stood upright and positioned himself to my left.  I moved a bit so that the shopping cart was between us, but it didn’t stop the inquisition.

His arm was stretched out over the cart when he began flailing his finger at me and with a loud voice he asked,
“What is the mark of the beast?”
This is where the teacher part was activated.
“I see you have something in your hand.  Are you handing those out?” I diverted his question for a second, but he went back to it so I played along. 
“Are you looking for the answer 666 or satan?”  I asked.
“That’s the mark of man.” He said angrily.
Then I said, “Yes, we don’t really know what it will be, but God is looking for His mark on the heart of man that says they belong to Him.”
He didn’t like my response so he threw something else on the table. “You know who the Antichrist is? It’s the Pope; he’s not a Christian you know.”  By now I should say that he was overly excited with his revealing the ground breaking news.
“We don’t know who the Antichrist will be and don’t know if the Pope is saved or not. His teachings may not line up with scriptures, but we are not the ones to make that judgment on the soul of man,” I replied.
He went back to the “beast” issue and tried opening that can again when I simply asked him, “What answer are you looking for?  What do you want to hear me say?”
Then he called out the reference in Revelation 14:11, but gave no details.  I know the Bible but don’t have it all memorized. He should have said what the verse was, but didn’t.
“And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever received the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:11 NKJV)
No Tickets Needed
Customers were passing by watching how this gentleman was pacing back and forth near my cart obviously getting frustrated with me.  The show had begun and I didn’t even buy a ticket.
I never moved or even turned my head, but let him do the circus act alone. That’s not what I would describe a believer as, but he stalked me like I was his prey and about to pounce when given the opportunity.
Here’s when I got my hubby involved and he hadn’t even entered the store yet. When it comes to me, he takes the Boy Scout motto seriously,
“Be prepared!” (to do what is necessary to help others.)
Has anyone told them that Jesus said it first?
Trying to appease him I replied, “Why don’t you ask my husband the same question, he is well trained in the book of Revelation. He’s parking the car and will be here in a minute.”
For the next five minutes I must have looked back at the doorway a dozen times to see if he was in view, as the man with a mission kept talking. 
Finally, I saw him coming and told the man to ask the same thing to my husband since obviously he was getting nowhere with me.  It was like the cavalry came, not for me but that man (so he thought). 
Right on Cue
Wheeling his cart up to my right he didn’t have to ask me anything, but just waited for the action. (I tend to get myself in this situation all the time). 
Looking at the soul seeker I said, “Ask him the same thing you asked me.” 
So he did, but in the middle of his statement my husband rebuked him in a softer, yet assertive voice saying, “Yo, calm down man, lower your voice. You’re scaring the customers.  Why are you so angry?”
Hubby quietly stood there letting the man have his way.  Now he didn’t like what my husband had to say and asked more questions.  Then my husband spun off a few of his own.
He started to answer my spouse when I asked him a different question.  It threw him off and then he said, “Read the book” (referring to the one he still had in his hand). I spoke up ... 
“Wait a minute.  If Jesus were to come right now I wouldn’t have time to read that book. What are you trying to say?  Tell me. What do I need to know right now?” I pleaded.
I guess that was the breaking point, because he shoved the book in my hand and declared, “Repent, call on the name of the Lord and be saved.” as he quickly skirted past us making a bee-line for the door.
That Man Has Issues
We went about gathering our items and checked out at the cashiers.  Leaving the store we both talked about how unsettled we felt and that we gained nothing from the experience other than more questions.
Both of us recognized that this gentleman had a heart for sharing the gospel, but didn’t know how to do it. Instead of drawing people to the Lord, he was sending them away.
All week long it has been a focal point of our conversations on how this man with a passion had no idea how to approach someone about Christ.  He was loud, argumentative, condemning and controversial, but left no impact on us except he was not prepared to give an answer like the Bible tells us. 

"Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life, and if someone asks about your hope as a believer always be ready to explain it."  (1 Peter 3:15 NLT)
Let’s suppose the people this “believer” approached, weren’t born again. He shared nothing about the love of God, salvation, Jesus or forgiveness.  When I said I was a Christian he wasn’t aware of how long I had been one, if I was a disciple or had a Bible to read Revelation.  He didn’t even know if I said I was a Christian merely because I live in a country that calls itself a Christian nation.
I was thrust into a deep conversation or should I say debate, in the public eye where others watched his display.  No one wanted to stop and listen, but made a wide berth as they went around us.  What others observed looked like a man with issues.
The books he handed me weren’t gospel books or tracts, but subject’s addressing Rome’s Challenge, Why Protestants Keep Sunday and the National Sunday Law, all materials that a pastor, student or teacher in religious functions might learn about in their studies.  These are not evangelistic materials in the least sense of the word, but perhaps books for a classroom or personal use.
Soul Ambassador
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV)
The Bible explains that each person, that accepts Jesus as their Christ, becomes an Ambassador for him.  The role of such an individual is to present the view and opinions of the person they are representing. 
A person who wavers from this is no longer an Ambassador, but a counterfeiter or false ambassador. It’s more about them personally (solely). They want their sole voice to be heard, not the voice of Jesus concerning the soul of man.  
As soon as the gentleman began giving me his statement on what I needed to know, he started using the wrong voice as a spokesman for the Lord.  There is only one voice, one message, one God that is to be shared and that’s the one Jesus commanded.
Love one another as I have loved you. (John 13:34 NKJV) 

Once that message is given and a person accepts Jesus as their Savior, the other things come with being discipled in a setting more fit for questions and even controversial topics at times.
My husband asked me why I said “thank you” to the unconventional Ambassador instead of “God bless you too” or something else.  That’s not like you, but cold and uncommitted. He immediately wanted to blame it on my comedian friend from last week’s post. I chalked it up to the heat or hey, here’s an idea – maybe it was the Holy Spirit!
Redefining Love
Actually, I don’t know why I gave that answer, but believe it was God reminding me that my journey is to include Him and His ways. 

Jesus has given us instructions for us to share His message of salvation. No matter how we choose to do that it has to include tenderness, love and affection. 
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV)
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NKJV)
If you’re using the not so comforting “Ten Commandment” guilt method to win souls, please stop. There’s nothing scriptural about it and the condemnation tool isn’t yours to use.
It’s fine to hand out materials that would encourage someone to dig deeper into God’s Word and find out more about Him.  It’s not fine to bypass the way we go about doing the Word of the Lord, especially when it’s spelled it out for us in the Bible.
That man believed he saw an open door, but had it shut almost immediately because of his actions and lack of knowledge concerning evangelism. Without love, you’re not going to reach anyone.  All he wanted to do was tell me I was wrong and why he believed most people were going to hell.  If my answers weren’t right, then why didn’t he give me the ones I needed to be saved?
Guard the Faith
“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:20-22)
When thinking about what our challenge was for this week my hubby gave me his street version that is as plain as can be: “Don’t be a jerk for Jesus.”
I hear you but you're saying nothing.
He wasn't saying the man was a jerk, but that phrase does put it into perspective.

So how do we go about speaking the right voice that shows we belong to Jesus? If at any time we become argumentative and confrontational in evangelizing, we’re using our own voice to vocalize our opinions. 
The Word of God tells us in Proverbs that there are those who like to hear their own voices and are puffed up giving airs. 
That’s not the message we are to be sharing in our Outward Journey, and if that’s what you gained from this teaching I’ve used the wrong voice in presenting it.
“Jesus said to him, I Am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
This Week’s Challenge:

Using the Right Voice

There is no doubt that you will have an opportunity to share the message of the cross with someone this week, even if it’s in passing. Instead of becoming a puma and jumping all over someone, we’re going to say one sentence:
“Jesus (use His name) loves you.”  Many believe in God, but not Jesus and it is His name that is going to give them entrance into Heaven so we need to get used to saying it. If their response is open and receptive, make a statement that will intrigue them into wanting to know more.  
Now as hubby would once have suggested, if they don’t respond you get behind them, put them in a headlock with your knee in their back pulling them to the ground and say,

“You love Jesus yet?” (He's learned that isn't “Christian”.) 
Although effective, it isn’t the Voice of God or truth that would be leading the conversation or action. 
Maybe this would be a better thing to say:
 “I remember the day when I realized that Jesus loved me, in spite of all I had done.  It was so amazing.” 
A remark like that may open a door for them asking you to share when that was or what you did that was so bad, and that’s where your Ambassadorship needs to be vocal. If they don’t respond, move on and pray that God will send someone else in their path.  You will have another chance to share your journey, trust me!
Use your voice to speak His Words and it will be the right voice heard, because it's the Voice of Truth.
Do not be afraid to share what the Lord has done for you personally. God will bless and favor your actions as you disclose your testimony about coming to accept Him as Lord and Savior.

No need for eloquent speeches, books toted under your arms or even a phony ten dollar bill tract.  Your experience is all you need in the beginning.  The other things will come, but let God tell you when and where.

Until next time, favor God’s Voice.

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Robert E. Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism.”

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