Archive for category Evangelism

Lost Donkeys

lost donkeyAt one time Saul (King Saul) was a good and humble man before he was lost to the dark side. In contrast, Saul (the apostle Paul) was a force of Satan before he was found, and later became a powerful force of God.  In short, Saul was lost, Paul was found.

The beginning story of King Saul is quite interesting.  The account in 1 Samuel 9, begins with Saul’s father, Kish, who has lost his donkeys.  He sends his son Saul along with a servant out to find them to no avail. Saul and the servant travel extensively throughout the Benjamin and Ephraim hill country looking for the animals. Their traverse could be compared to looking for these animals in an area the size of Jefferson, Shelby and Chilton counties, or roughly 2600 square miles. Have you ever tried to find something small in a relatively large area?  You would think that finding donkeys would not be that difficult a task. However, try imagining looking for the animals in these three adjacent counties. What’s remarkable about this story is that although Saul does not find the donkeys, God finds his people a King. In both aspects, God is the one that finds, for it is revealed to Saul by Samuel that the donkeys have been found and that he shall be King over the children of Israel.

Alexander Selkirk (1676 – 13 December 1721) was a Scottish sailor who spent four and a half years as a castaway after being marooned on an uninhabited island in 1704. Later, William Defoe wrote the famous novel Robinson Crusoe which was based in large measure on Alexander Selkirk. In the book, it is by luck that a merchant ship stumbles upon Crusoe’s small island, which is lost in a vast sea. You may remember the movie Castaway starring Tom Hanks, who is stranded on a small island, hundreds of miles from the nearest shipping lanes. His rescue is likewise by shear chance, and is referred to in the movie as like trying to find a needle in an area the size of Texas. Whatever the comparison, the lost, it seems, are hopelessly lost; except to God.

Jesus challenges our thinking about things we consider lost in Luke the 15th chapter. The Pharisees and scribes kept complaining to Jesus about the company he was keeping (tax collectors, sinners). Basically, they looked at these people as forever lost, castaways on a vast sea that will never be found.  Jesus reveals to  them that the task of seeking that which islost is directly proportional to the value we place on that which is lost. The Pharisees didn’t really care about sinners, but God does. If the sinners were their sheep, they would immediately seek to find them.  If the tax collectors were one of their precious coins, they would turn over their entire home to find it. The point of the parables is that when we really care about those who are  lost, God will make the task of finding the lost, however daunting, possible. You see, that was why Jesus was sent into this world, to find the donkeys (or if you’d like to think of yourself as a sheep rather than a donkey). Luk 19:10  and the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” Just as Kish sent hisson to find the animals, God has sent His Son to find His lost children. Just as Kish’s son would become King, so would God’s Son become King of Kings. Just as Kish’s donkeys were found, so too are God’s children found and rescued by the one true Sheppard.

The greatest example of a lost sheep being found is Paul. As the sentiments of Ananias bear, “Lord, I have heard many people tell how much evil this man has done to your saints in Jerusalem. Acts 9:1, believing that a person such as Paul could be savedis well, unbelievable. Yet God knew what power and influence for good Paul would have on the whole world, and remember, God found him before Ananias.Act 9:11  The Lord told him, “Get up, go to the street called Straight, and in the home of Judas look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. At this very moment he is praying.

Just as Saul, we are sent out to find that which is lost. Just as Paul, we must value all of God’s children, however evil they may be. We must remember that we are the seekers, God is the finder. In so seeking, Kings have been found, and those who would testify before Kings.

 

Darryl Fuller

One More Throw

Sea-of-Galilee-1900My earliest experience of fishing involved practicing the art of quietness. Fishing with my grandfather was an adventure, but I do believe it robbed him of that peace and solitude he looked forward to. He had a small jon boat with an even smaller Evinrude engine, but when I tagged along, it was to the banks we went. Grandpa sat on an old tin bucket, took a chew first, then the worm out of the cup and onto the hook (you have to be careful with the order because tobacco and worm-bed look the same). After throwing in, it he’d hand me the pole and then these immortal words, “Be very quiet, the fish can hear you.” Well, you know how long that lasted! Rule No.1, don’t try to teach patience and quietness to a youngster through fishing.

The art of fishing really comes down to three basic things; the proper equipment, the right place, and patience. There are several ways one can fish. Most recreational fishing is done by angling or the use of hook and line.  In the New Testament we see that the Apostles such as Peter, James, John and Andrew fished with nets.  Netting is done mostly as a form of commercial fishing and is very labor intensive.  In Luke 5:1-11 Jesus taught three fundamental principles of evangelizing by way of his disciples’ fishing experience. They just so happen to correlate to the three basics mentioned above.

1. Get in the Boat.

Luke 5:1-3  On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,  (2)  and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.  (3)  Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. You can fish from the shore or bank or pier, but in order to consistently catch the big ones, you need to get in the boat. In many ways this verse implies the utilization of the right equipment for both fishing and evangelizing. Jesus could have easily taught from shore, but seeing that boats were available, He took the opportunity to use those boats. Now, having the best equipment will obviously yield better results, but the lesson is not in having the best equipment but utilizing the equipment you have. In order to teach more effectively, Jesus used the equipment he had, boats.

2. Go to where the Fish are.

Luke 5:4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” I used to believe that fish were everywhere in the water. All you had to do was throw out the line and eventually a fish would swim at the chance to hook up with you. However, as is the case with the disciples in our passage from Luke 5, if you’re not in the right spot, you can fish all night and catch nothing. Did you notice that Jesus told Peter, where to go? He commanded that they go to the deepest part of the lake. Jesus (the Creator) knew where the fish were. He knew without the aid of sonar or imaging devices. He knew without the clues of sunlight or the position of the moon. The principle lesson; know what/who you’re fishing for and where they will be. Peter is obviously no novice to the trade of fishing. He in some ways questions Jesus’ insistence that they fish in the deep Luke 5:5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”  But fish as well as human souls are not always where you think they will be, and we have to trust in the Creator to direct us to the right place and/or the right time.  What were the results of going where Jesus said to go? Full nets of fish! Their nets were so full that it took two boats to haul them all in and this to the point of sinking both vessels! The key to all of this is listening to the Master. It is at His directions, His words (the Bible), that when we listen and obey, the results are bountiful. Noticed that Peter and the other disciples not only had to go to the deep part of the lake, which was probably at least a 3 or 4 mile row, they had to then lower their nets. This would have been tiring exhaustive work, yet compelling, too God’s will, equals grand success.

3. Patience.

Even when you’ve failed, never give up.  The same words that Peter uttered in verse five conversely demonstrate his weariness and discouragement.  I’m sure that all they really cared about at that moment was to get those nets cleaned and hung up for the next occasion to fish.  They had been up all night and must have longed to go home, clean up, and rest. However tired and frustrated they were, Jesus commanded they go again.  Truly, our work is never finished. Brother R.J. Stevens is a great example of a worker for the Lord.  When it seemed that life had been cruel and had inflicted his wife with Alzheimer’s, he used it as an opportunity to teach souls. Instead of visiting her every day, he resolved that this was now his life as well and moved in with her at the nursing facility. This afforded him the time to visit many of the elderly patients as well as their families and the nursing staff. The gospel was proclaimed and souls were touched, some even to the point of accepting the Gospel. Who knows how many fish will be hauled into the boat in years to come from this tireless effort? It truly amazes me at how many fish are caught on the last throw.  When you’ve practically given up but decide to throw out one more time is usually the time you’ll find success. Suddenly, you’re not tired anymore and the discouragement fades away. Steadfastness and patience make for good fishermen.

                Let’s go catch some souls.

Darryl Fuller