Powered By Blogger

Thursday, April 24

What is It that Makes some Christians Passionate when others aren't?

         Keith and I are a team, passionate about reaching people with our music and writings that proclaim the Gospel that Jesus Christ preached.  We regularly offer our messages electronically by podcast, social media, website, and this blog.  I must say, however effective these outreaches prove to be, Keith has NOT stopped boldly, yet lovingly, approaching people at gas stations, supermarkets, and stop lights.  In fact, since about a month after we met in 2008, I haven't been able to count the people he befriends, everywhere we go, usually leaving them with one of his books or CDs.  Anyone who has seen him in action will tell you what a faith-building sight it is!  Keith knows, intimately, how God uses these opportunities to provide folks with something they need, at the place where they are, at exactly the right time.
         I hope that, as you read this blog, your heart, soul and spirit is stirred with an increased passion for oneness with Christ Jesus and for pouring into people.  I have referenced this writing in a personal letter we are mailing out this month to the friends, family members and financial partners of Toward The Mark.  If you would like to begin receiving regular mailings from us, just send an email request to Keith and BrendaLee Shealy or mail a printed request to:  Toward The Mark, Inc., P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152.

IT, this is Part I of II:
During rush hour traffic, a guy in a red pickup truck cut me off, the back corner of his truck barely missing the front of my car. I guess he was hoping to make it through the next intersection before the traffic signal turned red. My Mom would have said "If I didn't know better, I would think that fella' was going to a house fire." As God would have it, the guy did not make the red light, and I stopped directly behind him. On his back window I could see a decal with the Harley Davidson logo and the words "SOLD OUT JESUS FREAK."
Upon seeing that, I jumped out of my car, opened the trunk, and grabbed a copy of our book, XII Smooth Stones. (I keep a complete supply of our teaching resources in my car, because ministry opportunities can appear at any moment.) As I went up to the red truck, I signaled to the driver to roll down his window. With a surprised look on his face, he complied, and before he could speak, I handed him the book, saying "God bless you." As we pulled away from the light I could see him smiling and vigorously waving to me through his rear window.
Now, although I am able to sow God's Word regularly, it is not every day that I get the kind of encouraging response that I received later that evening from the driver of the red truck. Later that evening he sent an e-mail saying that, once he opened our book, XII Smooth Stones, he could not put it down, and before he knew it, he had read the entire book. He said in his e-mail that the teachings were everything that he had been craving and praying for, but was not getting from the church he had been attending. He then asked if I could speak to a men's group that meets on Tuesday evenings and bring copies of our new book. I replied that I would be honored to go and that Brenda and I would be praying for them.
Since that evening I have received several e-mails from the owner of the red truck. I also spoke to approximately thirty-five men for about an hour in an old garage where it was about 95 very humid degrees. These men were there because they wanted more of God! When I had finished speaking, I was able to sow into their lives over fifty copies of our books. This is but one example of the ways we are able to freely give because of the hard work of our team and the monthly financial support of a very small group of generous partners. None of this would have happened, however, if I had not seized the opportunity to approach the driver of the red pickup truck. For, once again, God had honored my morning prayer request to open a door to sow the good seed of Toward The Mark's teaching resources into the fertile soil of someone's life.
So I have a question for you: What is it that that would compel a Christian to jump out of a car at a busy intersection while most professing Christians would not? After all, Jesus instructed us to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) How is it, then, that we seem to be hearing less and less about scripture-based evangelism? Here we stand at the threshold of our Lord's return and the very spirit of slumber that we are all warned not to entertain seems to be knocking Christians unconscious everywhere. Jesus knew this would happen, and He warned us numerous times, such as in the following passage of Scripture...
          "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." (Mark 13:31-37; Emphasis added.)
Those words have special meaning for us, since we are so close to the time of the End. The Lord wants us to be spiritually awake so that we can watch for His coming. However, even those who were alive when Jesus walked the Earth were in need of a spiritual jump-start. Hear what Jesus said to His disciples shortly after He had risen from the dead...

"Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them [To rebuke severely; censure; Scold] with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." (Mark 16:14)
After getting their attention, the Lord immediately commanded them to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15; Emphasis added.) They did...
"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16:20; Emphasis added.)
So, what is IT? What would cause a person to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, having the same desire as God to see every creature come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? For starters, IT is having a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. When you examine the lives of those who fulfilled God's passion in their lives and in the lives of others, you will find that each of them had met Jesus Christ. And, because of their encounter, they laid their lives down, including plans, wishes, possessions, relationships, philosophies, etc., to witness to His Greatness.
Multitudes of people have heard about Jesus Christ, but the evidence of the vast majority is that they do not know Him. Meeting Jesus and knowing Him are so much more than having heard about Him. Once you have truly met Him, you will never be the same, and the impact of being in the Lord's presence will inspire you to seek from God what you cannot find any other way. This includes coming to know Him, even as He knows us.
One of the beauties of God's creation is that we are all different, and His approach in dealing with each of us encompasses those differences. So not all encounters with Christ are alike. For instance, there are those who have met Jesus as an all-consuming fire, such as Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul). Conversely, Jesus may be very gentle, or He may choose some manner in between. The Book of Acts records Saul's encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time, Saul was traveling on the road to Damascus to arrest followers of Jesus as violators of the Law of Moses...
"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the thorns. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man." (Acts 9:3-7)
Saul fell to the ground in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare that with the account of the men who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane...
"Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he (Jesus) had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground." (John 18:1-6; Emphasis added.)
The Bible documents other similar occurrences in both the Old and the New Testament, but such experiences are not limited to Biblical times. I have personally had several demobilizing encounters with Jesus Christ, but I have also encountered Jesus in more gentle ways that were just as profound, but much less taxing emotionally and physically. In our book, Letters from the Front, I describe in detail some of those events. If you have not read the book, and are interested in knowing more, our TowardTheMark INC. website has all of that and more in our other printed inventory available.
I know a brother in the Lord who testifies that the Lord visited him and his wife as she lay dying. With the gentleness of a lamb, the Savior kissed them both on their foreheads while speaking words of love and deliverance. His wife was miraculously healed that day! This brother also tells of a moment when he suddenly found himself in the presence of the Lord in Heaven. His soul was flooded with joy so quickly that his body felt like it would soon explode, and he pleaded for it to stop. This occurred in less time than it takes to read this paragraph.It is certain that our bodies cannot withstand the power of God's presence. In the parable of the garment and the wine bottles, Jesus taught that we need new bodies to be able to stand in His glorious presence, and to enjoy the fullness of the new life He brings. That same parable concludes with a warning about rejecting the new life that God offers to us through Christ.
         "And he spoke also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agrees not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desires new: for he says, The old is better." (Luke 5:36-39)
Observe how the old bottles will burst and perish if the fullness of the life of Christ is poured into them. God knows our limitations and will not put more on us than we can bear. As the psalmist wrote, "For he knows our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14) On the other hand, He knows that through Him we can handle far more than we think. Also notice that the natural tendency is to reject what the Lord offers, preferring the old life to the new. "No man also having drunk old wine straightway desires new: for he says, The old is better."
This last point explains why it is likely that you have never been around someone who has encountered Christ, even within the avid church-going crowd. You may be thinking, I am faithful in tithing, Church attendance, and helping others, but I have never had an encounter with Jesus Christ. If you have never experienced anything like the things that we have shared with you in this letter, it in no way means that God does not love you, or that He respects someone else more than He does you. As the Scripture says, "God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)
Now, although God is not a respecter of persons, He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) You will only get out of something, what you are willing to put into it. This proves no less true concerning your becoming ONE with your Heavenly Father. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7) If you desire for the Lord to show Himself to you in a great way, then you must seek Him diligently. If you noticed, Paul did not say that God is a Rewarder of those who "merely" seek Him. He said that God is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him!
I share this with you in hopes that it will help instill in you an unquenchable desire to diligently seek God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and body. You must understand, this walk with God is an "all in or all out" endeavor! "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16) God wants nothing more than to draw close to us, but He is hindered only by our lack of desire to first draw close to Him! God's Word is clear on this.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:7-10)
Too many "Church folk" today are wandering around thinking that God does not love them for one reason or another. They leave Church lonely on Sundays wondering if God even exists. I say, try something new! Seek God diligently, offer up thanks to Him for who He is more than for what He can do for you. Also, if you have given yourself entirely to God and have yet to experience anything like I have shared in this letter, do not be discouraged. Rather be very encouraged. God will reveal Himself to you in His time...
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." (Hebrews 10:35-36)
Be assured that God can show Himself to you in many different ways, and do not think that God only shows Himself to us in big ways. Some of my greatest experiences have been when God moved in the small matters of my life; Whether it was getting a much-needed check in the mail as a bill came due, getting an encouraging phone call when I needed it most, or hearing His soft and gentle whisper in my spirit. God has many ways by which He can reveal Himself to each of us; Such ways will build our faith like nothing else can.
We pray that this message has helped you better understand the importance of diligently seeking God. Remove all distractions from your life and seek Him with your whole heart! I also pray that, from this day forward, you will make God your permanent residence and will give your life to leading those around you, as Jesus prayed in the garden, into oneness with our Almighty God and King. 

To be continued...
Part II of this blog message is coming up within the coming month.

We invite you to take advantage of these additional Scripture-based truths we have available to help you Press Toward the Mark of becoming "one" with your Heavenly Father:
"Keith Shealy & Toward The Mark" on Facebook;
Keith's "Between The Lines" Podcast on Libsyn;
"TTM Singing Sgt" on Twitter;
"Sharing with you the Secrets that God Whispers to us" website scripture messages.

Every gift is appreciated and helps.
Mail Tax-deductible Check Donations to:
Toward The Mark, Inc., P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152.

Toward the Mark, Inc. © 2005 - 2014 | Privacy Policy and Terms of Use apply |
(757)251-2440 TowardTheMark.com | Resources@TowardTheMark.com

1 comment :

KeithAndBrenda said...

Someone just asked me why it is that we do what we do? My answer is simply, "So that every one of God's sons and daughters can "LIVE" as we know only comes by our Heavenly Father! We need to know "who" we are, and "WHOSE" we are! * I love what James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and HE SHALL LIFT YOU UP." * Amen! Hallelujah! Selah!