A Reminder Tucked Away…

I found a note when cleaning out my wallet the other day. I have tons of these sweet memorabilia tucked away, from the tulip drawn by granddaughter Hollyn when she was four to the ticket stub from our last date night. I’m a sentimentalist and treasure these things above all other.

But this note held even more meaning because it was a message from the Lord.

It was a simple yet direct word that He gave shortly after we moved to the Coast, in my first few weeks of ministry.

Many will come bearing no fruit. Be not dismissive, neither waste your time.

I absolutely love how the Lord can say in 13 words what would take me two pages to explain. That short message was prophetic, warning, and encouraging at once.

Many will come:  Some were coming FOR help; some were coming TO help.

bearing no fruit: They were saying the right things but their actions didn’t line up. Some were deliberately deceitful; some truly believed they were in the right spirit. (This also alludes to the fact that some WILL come bearing fruit.)

Be not dismissive: Be compassionate. Don’t get mad at the blind man for not being able to see. Do what you can to help….

neither waste your time: ….but don’t spin your wheels. There are some you need to walk away from. There are others you must draw the line between helping and enabling. We offer a chance for a new life, the hope in Christ. We plant a seed; we sometimes stick around to water it. But we don’t plant, dig, replant, water, watch, fret, add fertilizer, water some more, pull the stem out of the ground…

It was a great message and it’s served me well. Looking back, I see many people who’ve come along to minister with us who’ve fallen by the wayside. They were on fire for the Lord and now they can’t be bothered to even get out of bed on Sunday mornings. I’ve seen others denounce Christ and begin practicing witchcraft. Others, ravenous wolves from the beginning, have had their sheep masks torn away.

But in the midst of it have been the ones who’ve bloomed much fruit. So much fruit that their fruit has poured over into our orchards! We’ve met some incredible people, many of whom are still in our lives today. There have been some whose journeys only briefly intersected with ours but we still shared the same goals.

Some of the ones I thought were great Christians were not. Some of the ones I thought were (um, shall we say…) “different” were actually wonderful servants of God.

I think this is why the Lord told me to be not dismissive. Because it wasn’t just about compassion, it was also about me not rushing to judgement. Sometimes it takes some time to see clearly.

But once you do, then you need to either grab on or go on.

But don’t waste your time!

I failed her. I won’t make this mistake again.

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An old high school classmate died last week from cancer.

She was way way too young.

We weren’t close in school; she was a friend of a friend. But we had a more recent Facebook friendship.

It was one of those superficial friendships in which you are completely sincere but you never go past the surface.

I commented on her hair, her clothes, her jokes. She was gorgeous and she loved letting her friends choose between outfits for an evening out.

She was kind and warm to everyone she spoke to.

I was surprised the day I read the post about her health issues. She didn’t complain; she was always upbeat. I’d had no idea.

But I said nothing.

Then when she posted fun pics and posts again, I was there.

I’m not one to avoid issues, I just missed it. At least the severity of it. And I never, ever asked. I think I might have clicked the sad emoji face, still not registering that my friend was actually in a battle for her life.

I didn’t ask how she was feeling.

I didn’t ask if I could do anything for her.

I didn’t ask if I could pray for her.

And, the worst part of all, I didn’t ask if she knew Jesus.

I can only hope that she did.

And make sure I never ever make this mistake again.

Is it about the SIGN or the ACTION TAKEN?

Imagine you are driving down the road. Another car is coming from the road to your left while kids are chasing a dog and getting dangerously close to the road on your right. There are four cars behind you and you see a young man helping an elderly lady cross the road in front of you.

You see the sign above.

What do you do?

Do you check to see if the paint is the correct shade of red? Do you ponder the use of an octagon instead of something simpler, like a circle? Do you check the angle of the sign post to see if it is straight or slightly askew?

Do you call your friends and tell them what the red octagon means? Do you pull out your phone and start researching stop signs?

Of course not. You stop.

If you waste time focusing on the sign, you miss the point of having the sign there to begin with.

You might even miss those in danger around you.

What if the kids keep running as the dog crosses into the street? Or the elderly lady stumbles and falls before she reaches the end of the crosswalk? What if the car to your left misses the sign and keeps going through the intersection?

The sign is there as a warning. Stop. Look. Notice your surroundings.

Is this what you do?

Even spiritually?

Lately I’ve seen a lot of people fascinated with the signs of the end times. Some biblical prophecies have indeed come to pass. Other interpretations are completely out of left field. Either way, though, it shouldn’t matter.

The SIGNS were never meant to be our focus.

The ACTIONS were. Stop. Look. Notice your surroundings. There are people everywhere in danger of an eternity without Christ. It’s our job to show them the way.

The more time we spend looking for signs and talking about signs and, even worse, ARGUING about the signs, the less time we have to lead others to Christ.

Forget the signs. Take action!