Posts Tagged With: parable

Bridge-Burning, Bridge-Building, and Wall-Building

A boy once lived through a river crossing. The waters receded and the ground became dry and the people crossed. But a few people stayed in the middle, stranded on high places in the river. They lived on islands in the middle of a grand, wide river.

As the boy grew up, he noticed the people in the middle. When he became a man, he longed to cross the stream again to bring more people across. He dreamed of just the right bridges and how to reach those on the other side and those on the islands.

He lived at the edge of the river and build a few walls for his home and then began planning to reach those on the islands and those on the other side. He watched their habits. He waved at people on the islands and on the other side, and he one day noticed that if he stepped into the stream a little and asked for help, he could reach the islands nearby. He would visit the people and talk to them. Sometimes people received him, sometimes they didn’t.

The budding bridge-builder would bring food and the fruit of the land to those on the islands. He gave them things to read to pass their time with joy. A few crossed over and left their islands, and joy filled his heart. All of his friends and family received the newly landed people and he was happy.

Gradually, he invited others to help him build bridges to those further out on the islands. He would look for the best place to land the bridge and visited with gifts of peace. On occasion he found islands where people had built walls all around the islands like fortresses and who refused to cross over or even to greet him. He pressed on and went to the islands that were accessible.

Sometimes he would build a bridge to an islander and the person attacked him. When this happened, he put up a gate on the island bridge to protect himself and the other incorporated citizens. Then, he moved on to build more bridges.

On rare occasion, he found islanders who would receive him freely at first, but later would burn all the bridges to their island. While he never understood why people would stay on the islands, he refused to muddle in the river weeping forever over the bridges that could have been and would venture out to new islands.

He kept finding new islands. Occasionally, he would even call out to those on the other side and would send a boat to retrieve those who wanted to cross. Yes, there is danger in bringing people safely to land. Yes, it is a life prone to long hours alone reaching islands and reaching out to the other side, but every time someone rejoined the people of the land and the rejoicing went up, the labor was worth it.

So will you build bridges or burn them? Build brick walls with graffiti smiley faces or put in doors and windows, ready to open the gates when the time is right.

Categories: Missions, Peer support, Testimony | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost & Found: Lessons Learned from a Couple of Gloves

From WikiMedia.

From the Lost & Found

The other day, I visited some saints and shared the good news with some folks who were alienated from the message of Jesus. When I was with the Muslims, I spoke passionately, as did my friend, about the love of God in calling us to obey the truth. However, I myself was missing something, unbeknownst to me. I went to the next place and shared some more. But then as we were getting ready to leave, I realized that I did not have my gloves. I went back and looked, to no avail. I had an appointment to keep, so I had to leave. We prayed and I sang a little song, “I’m a loser, God’s a finder, I’m so glad He found me!”

After singing the second verse, my friend suggested we go to a different locale. So, with his wife in the car, off we went. We reached the place where I had been earlier, and there they were. My friend found the gloves in the very place where we had deduced I must have left them.

So what are some lessons?

You will remember the parable of the lost coin that was found by the married woman. It was the equivalent of a gem in a wedding ring. Here is the passage from Luke 15:8-10, “What woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (HCSB)

A. Finding requires a thorough search, so don’t give up when you don’t find the lost on the first try.

B. Cleaning house and sorting through what you have can often reveal the lost. We had to sort through the car and retrace our path, so too, you may have to clean house spiritually to find the lost.

C. It probably required consultation with neighbors to find that coin just as more than one person worked to find those gloves. While God is the Ultimate Finder, when we are looking as the church for the lost, it often requires a host of neighbors to find what we are looking for.

D. Rarely do you find lost things in the first place you look. Don’t get stuck in a rut: be creative, try looking in new places and with new graces. Usually we get so used to routines that we lose our way in the mundane. God reveals the lost when we step out of the routine and look intensely & deeply.

E. The search is worth it. My friend and his wife at one time suggested we just buy new gloves, but then they offered to take me to get the gloves in the last possible place. It was worth it. Less overall cost. It costs less to find the lost than to start all over again. Take the time to look. Looking for the lost is worth it. Finding the lost saves more than what was lost, it saves precious resources and brings peace.

F. When you find, celebrate as a group! They don’t call them search parties for nothing. It should be fun to find! Discovering the resources of giftedness and godliness yet to be revealed to and in the lost is worth going to tell them and telling them again until they come to their senses.

Incidentally, the place where we had the most fun sharing about Jesus was a clothing store. We were able to share about the Lost Son and how he risked everything to be restored. My friend rehearsed the story of redemption with passion. It engaged all of us to engage all of them in a search for the truth. They even received an Arabic-English Bible. God was at work.

Ultimately, we must remember and honor the Lord who reveals the lost and reveals Himself to the lost. He searches them out. He searches their hearts. He finds the treasure planted in the world. He gathers in every grain for His barns.

The Lord Jesus spares no expense to find the lost.

Can we do any less?

Categories: Evangelism, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Religiosity: A True Parable of Rebuke

written: October 16, 2000

A rural farmer-preacher was sent into a small American city to fast and pray. It had not rained in the city for many days. The pastors were praying in the city hall where they kept the large plastic statue of the school mascot, the small metal emblems of corporate sponsors and civic clubs, and the national flag they called “old glory” with gilded fringe around the edge. The pastors, at the farmer’s request, read 2 Chronicles 7:14, and began praying fervently for rain.

The pentecostal pastor opened up by praying in tongues. The charismatic pastor began to rebuke the various spirits who were withholding rain from the city and many times they bound satan till he could move no more. The baptist preacher reminded God of how he had stopped backsliding ten years ago. The catholic priest invoked the name of Mary and her son. The orthodox priest had a very balanced prayer in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The presbyterian minister reminded God of the catechism. The mennonite elder pleaded for peace to be restored to the city. The methodist minister asked God why he wasn’t sending revival or rain even after he had organized this meeting. The independent fundamental preacher refused to come to the meeting because it was too ecumenical. The ecumenical chaplain at the hospital was too busy counseling patients to pray. The quaker kept waiting on the Spirit and was moved to do nothing.

When the hour for prayer had finished: the farmer confessed his attitude of pride and stubbornness and the factions he had allowed to grow in the small country church. He wept over the disunity of the church and mourned over the drunkenness & violence of his people. He pleaded for mercy upon the students and confessed that he had not been faithful to reach out to the high school kids. He admitted that he was more concerned about who won the latest ball game than if the players on the team were truly following Jesus. He continued weeping as he confessed to war crimes he had committed while he was in Vietnam and to the crimes of his fathers in earlier wars. The poor farmer couldn’t stop crying as he thought of all the injustice that had been perpetuated in the city and the lies that had been told in the city government. By this time, all the others began to quietly leave the building wondering what was wrong with that farmer. They wanted to encourage him by telling him that even if his crops failed they would help him out. But he went on praying.

Finally, when he was the only one left, the tears stopped. And the farmer began quietly praising God for his mercy and his kindness. He honored God as the Sovereign Ruler and Jesus as the Head of the Body and invited the Holy Spirit to fill him. He went home singing songs he had memorized from the hymn book, reciting the Psalms his mother had drilled into him, and even made up a new song in the Spirit. And as he left the city limits, a cloud moved over the country-side.

And as he arrived home, rain began to fall; and by nightfall, the rain poured out on the countryside where the preacher and the believers under his care farmed. But the city remained dry, and the city park continued to grow more barren as each day passed.

[On the day that I wrote this, God sent rain as my heart had desired.]

Categories: Environmental Healing, Good News, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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