main image

I’ve been thinking lately about the amazing people the Lord has led into my life that have been a true blessing. Those that seem to have had the greatest influence on my life were believers who lived their faith in openness and with intent to be a blessing. It wasn’t an accident; it wasn’t just my good fortune; it happened because they lived their lives intending to yield to the Lord Jesus as He worked through their life to touch mine.

Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for. And those that influenced me the most are the ones that I remember the best.

I remember Mrs. Fry...she was my homeroom teacher and my teacher of mathematics in the seventh grade. I remember her intentionally pulling me aside after class one day to give me the encouragement that I needed at that time not to just go along with the crowd, but to follow the path that Christ has set aside for me. She assured me that I could be the leader instead of the follower and that’s why the Lord had me in that school and in her class. Her remarks fortified the truth I had been learning from Scripture...that the Lord has a purpose for every person and a plan for their life. She was devout; she was a spitball of energy; she was relentless as a teacher and I thought of her as not only my teacher but my friend. I could always talk to her if need be. And I did...many times.

I remember Coach Pierce...the first Coach that really sticks out in my mind. He influenced me by reminding me every day that Christian young men weren’t...as he said it, “Sissies”...that Christians young men were to be strong, to be passionate, to be leaders by actions and by words. He would lead devotionals before our games that taught us the importance of never giving up and that the way you played the game was just as important as playing the game. He introduced me to hard work and gave me my first responsibility as a leader. He allowed me to call the defense. I made the decisions on what the formations and the coverages out on the field should be. And he was never afraid of people knowing that he had faith in Christ. He was a powerful influence. I thought of him as not only my coach but my friend. I could always talk to him if need be. And I did...many times.

I remember Mrs. Ennis. She was my eight grade English teacher. She knew that I struggled with parsing, but she spent extra time helping me to see and understand the value of words and their placement in a sentence to communicate clearly and without misunderstanding. She increased my vocabulary and introduced me to reading for enjoyment. I’m not sure how many books I read and reported on to her. But I did it and I began to enjoy it. And to this day I use the tools she began to equip me with in daily ministry. She would often leave me with the statement that went something like this, “Who knows, someday the Lord may want you to preach the gospel to people in need.” She was stern when necessary, but while others seemed to be afraid of her, I thought of her as not only my grammar teacher but as my friend. I could always talk to her if need be. And I did...many times.

Really, I could go on and on...there have been so many that the Lord has used to bless, mold, challenge, teach, and grow my life. I would imagine that you could do the same. It’s good to stop and think about it and to be moved to thankfulness.

Each one of these that God used was successfully fulfilling their mission as given to them by the Lord in Matthew,

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV)

You know when your food is seasoned or preserved with just one grain of salt the impact in negligible, but when you have many grains the intended result is realized. A light that is hidden has no impact at all, but when brought out for all to see it does show people the way.

All of these disciples of Christ seasoned my life in just the right way, at just the right time and yes, sometimes preserving my life from the corrupt notions of the world. They were indeed the light I needed to point me to Christ and encourage me, help me, and lead me to live a daily, genuine walk with Him.

And did you notice, whether they were teaching, pushing me to new heights, challenging my lifestyle, whatever, I always thought of them as my friends. The love of Christ just came through them... to me.

We are all called to be the salt and light of the earth. No need for salt and light in heaven...it’s already taken care of there. But here, in a decaying and corrupt world that is just full of little Ralph’s trying to find their way...or might I add...a world full of people of all ages trying to find their way, there is great need for you and for me...for followers of Christ to passionately and intentionally bless the lives of others.

Maybe someday...even after many years...someone will remember you...because you influenced their life to live a deeper and better way with Jesus as their Lord. And maybe, just maybe, they will remember you as not only an influencer, but as a friend. Someone, they could always talk to...and they did.

 

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with
main image

Halloween is less than a week away. It’s the time of year when Christians come out on various social media outlets to shame people who fully embrace celebrating Halloween or shame those that turn the porch light off and ignore what’s going on all around them on October 31. Some find a middle ground between the two but it’s very clear Halloween isn’t your typical holiday for Christians. I could bore you with the historical background both Christian and secular, but that’s not my point here. As a parent of two candy loving kids, I have to use some discernment and……gasp, the Bible, to help inform how I might lead my family during this holiday.

As I reflect back on my own childhood, Halloween was an occasional Fall Festival dressed as Mickey Mouse. I don’t recall trick or treating much as a child. Halloween just wasn’t a big deal in our home. I don’t even think Halloween decorations, decorative lights etc., even existed when I was a child. For some of you Pinterest loving, Halloween super enthusiasts you’ve already broke out in hives but stick with me here. Last year I sat in my driveway with my Mario carved pumpkin sitting next to me, while my wife took our 2 kids out trick or treating. I had the opportunity to talk with neighbors and hand out candy to the kids in all different positive and negative costumes.

Halloween is worth our consideration, it’s worth our time to question what it’s all about, to question how we as Christians should interact with it and how we might use it to open up opportunities for the gospel. So without further ado, here are some verses worth your consideration as you pray and prepare for October 31.

Let’s start here….

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let’s agree on this first; however you approach Halloween, as a believer it can’t be like the rest of the world. We cannot conform to the world. That’s not a Halloween principle, that’s a life principle. If you want to do God’s will for Halloween, be transformed, not conformed. So let me ask you a question, does the way you celebrate Halloween look differently than the way your neighbors celebrate the holiday?

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

Look at that, we stumbled upon something that says we should be doing exactly what we’re doing now, examining Halloween carefully. Two principles here….hold fast, or tightly, to what is good and abstain from all evil. I’ll refrain from quoting every verse that speaks to witchcraft, sorcery, demons, summoning the dead etc. All the Halloween haters have already memorized and quoted those verses to you so you feel bad. Here’s a question though….in your celebration of Halloween, are you abstaining from all forms of evil and holding tightly to good?

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Haunted houses, creepy clowns, death…it is all intended to create fear. Fear is not a God honoring attribute, unless it is the fear of the Lord, but that’s a different kind of fear all together. Fear and love are contrasted here in a passage that speaks to how God is love. In your celebration of Halloween, do you cast out fear through your love of those around you?

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

So whether you eat candy, drink hot cider, or whatever costume you wear, do all to the glory of God. Not exactly a direct quote but the principle holds true. I hope you’re getting this, the question of how to celebrate Halloween isn’t a Halloween issue, it’s a how do we live like Christ issue. With that in mind, as you celebrate Halloween, are you bringing glory to God in EVERYTHING you do?

Mark 2:15-17

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

This story caught the self-righteous Pharisees off guard and truth be told could catch some of us off guard today. Jesus was in and amongst sinners; seriously sinners! Guess who comes out of their houses on Halloween…..sinners. Yes that’s right, all those people you never speak to come outside and go door to door interacting with one another. Here’s a question, is there anything about Halloween, like eating with sinners in the story above, that isn’t clearly wrong? If so, in your celebration of Halloween are you helping the sick, not the ones with the fall sniffles/allergies, the ones that need to know Jesus?

The list could go on and on and reflection on the holiday could go on and on. As you consider Halloween, consider your whole life. There is nothing on this list you shouldn’t be considering each and every day of your life. Halloween is no different than any other day; we’re on a sinful planet, surrounded by sinful people, doing sinful things. Maybe we should stop shaming other believers in regards to our Halloween opinions, consider the Scriptures, and do something that brings glory to God!

 

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with

12...56575859606162636465 ... 7273