Camp Adventures: Getting Hooked

I love the woods and nature, just the ability to be completely surrounded by God’s magnificence is truly wonderful and such a blessing.

Here at camp you don’t have to look too far to realize there are life lessons and sermon illustrations that can be found everywhere.

Fishing, what a great way to spend time. The other day the kids were fishing and I was helping out. I was told, “they really never need help, you’ll be fine.” The irony of that statement. All was well, then suddenly yells and all kinds of chaos broke out, as one kid thought that he caught the “big one”. What we soon realized was, he caught a big one alright, but not a fish. He caught a turtle. I thought, well so much for them never needing help.

The turtle obviously was not too thrilled about the hook that was deep into his upper lip. When I tried to wiggle and get the hook out, he tried to pull away from me and go back into his shell and kept fighting me. What he didn’t realize was, that I was only trying to help him and he was making it worse.

Then it hit me, this was me at one point. Sin had taken a hold of me and everyone that was trying to help I resisted. The more that I pulled away and fought with the ones trying to help, the deeper into trouble I got.

Back to the turtle, the turtle finally wore himself out and at that point I was able to wiggle and maneuver the hook out of his mouth. I then dropped him back off in the pond and off he went. But, here’s the thing, there is the chance that very turtle can get caught again. Or, because he has been severely wounded, something else may come along and take advantage of his injuried state and he could be the dinner special on someone’s menu.

Again, this is us to some extent. We fight and fight and finally we get to a point where we can’t fight anymore and we accept help because we no other choice. Sin will wound us and leave us exposed. The damage that is done we aren’t really aware of, but we aren’t the same.

Now, there is hope in the midst of all this. Galatians 6:1 tells us that,”those that are over taken in fault, ye which are spiritual restore such one in a spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Those that are spiritual does not mean that if you think that you are a super Christian you have the right to bash and kick people while they are down. It means that when you see others fallen into whatever has them hooked, that we encourage them. Most importantly we pray and pray and do what we can to restore that individual with the tools and resources that God has given us.

So if you are the turtle fighting those that are trying to help, may I encourage you that those who are trying to help mean no harm, but truly do want what is best for you. But don’t fight so hard, especially God, and create for yourself a situation where you have no where to go but to God. Because rock bottom is never a pretty place to be. Accept the help while it is being offered. If you are the one trying to get the hook out, understand that helping someone takes patience, gentleness, and most importantly love. May we all help restore one other to better serve and run our race that God has set before us.

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Sow and Let God Grow

Matthew 9:37 – “…The harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few.” 

This verse to me has always been convicting and humbling. We live in a world where there are billions of people (the harvest) and yet finding people to be committed to the ministry of reaching them with the Gospel is as stated, being few laborers.

I think that sometimes, and I myself am guilty of this, we find ourselves doubting or even tired of the work (ministry). We have doubtful questions: well, these people never come to church anyway so, why bother to knock on the door. No one comes to evening services anymore so, why have them? I want to sleep in instead of getting up on Saturday morning and going out and visiting. I have often thought, well what if I say something stupid or dumb to someone while trying to share the Gospel and get rejected or look like an idiot.

But my friends do not doubt, do not be fearful, don’t get frustrated and don’t quit the work. Ask God for divine appointments. In Matthew 13:1-8 we have the parable of the sower. We see different outcomes of what happens to the seeds that are attempted to be sown. The first, “the fowls came and devoured them up.” (v.4). The second, fall onto stony soil and they become scorched because they had no root. (v.6). The third, are fallen onto thorns and then the thorns choke the seeds. (v.7).  But lastly, we see that some made it on good soil and brought forward much fruit. (v.8). 

I think that sometimes in ministry all we see, and if we aren’t careful, all we focus on is the seeds that we try and plant and become choked out, devoured, or even scorched. But friends we can’t get caught up on the seeds that did not grow the way we wanted. All that we are, is simply sowers. We may think that there is no point, we have not seen any fruit from the seeds that we have planted. But evangelism is more than what we can see. Isaiah:8 – “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” What a great comfort!

Farmers don’t just plant seeds and expect growth overnight. In fact, sometimes they plant a crop, some time has passed, they begin to think that that there won’t be any substance. Later, unexpectedly something appears. But if the farmer never plants any seeds then they will never know what can possibly be grown. If we don’t plant seeds- pass out tracts, share our testimonies, invite people to church, visit different people then it’s no wonder that we don’t see any fruit. James Merrit in his devotional book called 52 Weeks With Jesus, stated “Jesus won’t do our job- we are to sow. We can’t do his job- he is to grow. We can do our part but only Christ can reach the heart.”

You see it’s not so much was my delivery of the Gospel flawless, or that someone has to get saved every time that I share the Gospel and if not then the opportunity was a bust. No friends, we have no control over when and how the seeds that we planted are grown. That is up to the work of God. Personally, there were many sowers that planted seeds in my life. There is the possibility that those that shared testimonies and the Gospel with me thought, “you know I don’t think he is ever going to get it” or perhaps “this really has just become useless”. Only to their pleasant surprise one day I accepted Christ as my Savior.

Had seeds never been planted then who knows how I may have come to faith or if I would have come to a belief in Jesus Christ. The fruit came many years later. But don’t give up planting seeds. You never know what growth can come about. But just remember that is all in God’s time, and we can’t do the growing. John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

There is a world of people that you reading this can reach that I may never. As II Timothy 1:6 says, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” Let’s get stirred up, be bold, and be confident not in ourselves but in the amazing work of the Holt Spirit and because “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 

“Our tendency is to write off people in our minds: friends we think would never be interested in Christianity; colleagues who seem to sinful, ‘too far gone’; or family members who say conversations about ‘your religion’ are off limits. When I start thinking this way, I need friends to remind me that no heart is too hard for the Holy Spirit.” – J. Mack Stilles.