Category Archives: Sharing

Change the World

I have a confession.  I’m not ashamed of the gospel.

Now, I might not even mean what you think I mean.

I believe the gospel is world changing.  And, again, I might not mean what you think I mean.

But, there it is.

A couple of weeks ago I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua.  We helped put on special events (we call them Vacation Bible School or VBS).  The kicker was we offered lunch for the kids there.  Turns out if we hadn’t restricted the event, then every kid in the neighborhood would have showed up.  Why?   Lunch.

A friend of mine asked if we were going to proselytize or what.  I think what she was asking was whether we were going to peddle religion or were we going to really help people.

I’ve thought about that.  You know religion can be nothing more than a way to say I’m better than you are.  I have “special knowledge” that puts me into a special relationship with the divine.  I’ve got the right superstition…and I’ve got to show you just the right ritual so you can be as blessed as me.

Now, that’s the way some people see a lot of what missionaries do.  They’re just peddling their set of rituals.

And, sometimes that may just be true.

But, I want to say that that’s not at all what the gospel is about.  It’s about changing the world.  It’s the power of the creator of the Universe.  It’s God fixing the world.  It’s the only good thing we really have to share.  It’s the reality of the creative and redemptive work of God in the world.

Paul said, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel, for it’s the power of God unto salvation.”

I’m going to explore what he meant there in the next few posts, and I hope you’ll come with me.  You might just be surprised at what you see.

What is The Bible All About and Why Are You a Christian?

What  do you say to someone who isn’t really familiar with the Bible?  How do you communicate what is in your heart and soul about following Jesus?  How do you talk about this without sounding stuck up, condescending, or just dumb?  Well, I’m not sure I’m going to avoid any of those, but I’m going to give it a shot.  Here goes.

What Does Being a Christian Mean to Me?

What is the Bible All About?

There’s this story about this kid.  He escaped from a WWII work camp in Eastern Europe, and just wanted to find his mom.  So, he made this incredible journey across Europe.  Such bravery.  Such spirit.  And, he found her.  But, you know that’s not our story.

Here’s another story.  This girl gets held captive by terrorists.  Goes on for years.   And, she’s awaiting her death sentence.  Turns out all this time her father has been searching for her, and one day her rich brother shows up.  He’s going to pay the ransom, and the ransom is his life.  He’ll take his sister’s place.   So, the girl is rescued.

That’s more our story.  The world is messed up.   Cancer.  Corruption.  Death.  It’s there.  Our story is that God came into this messed up world.  He came for us.

Jesus died and arose to rescue the world.  To set it right. To beat death.  And, he did.  He arose.

So, we’re blessed, even if we suffer, even if we cry sometimes, because we know that his reign is coming.  It’s a reign of love and truth.  And, so we shine.  We do all we can to show the truth of the world, this powerful love.

And, we do crazy things like loving our enemies.  We do unheard of things like being pure in heart and mind.  Why?  Because there’s this truth that we’re living out.   It’s the reign of the real King of the world.

So, we don’t do our religion just for show.  Yeah, we go to worship, but it’s not to be in the social club.  Yeah, we pray, but it’s not for political brownie points.  It’s because we know this is real, and it’s world changing.   And, we don’t get caught up in materialism, because we know there’s a greater purpose for our lives.  And, we don’t worry, because we know how it all ends and who is in control.

And, we’re not hard on people because we know they are fellow travelers too who are on this journey to truth and love.

We may not be perfect, but we are affected by this powerful love.

So, that’s what I’d try to say to my friends, and that’s the way I try to live.  I don’t do the best job of it from time to time, but that’s why I’m thankful for the grace of God.  Because like we said at the beginning, we don’t earn our way to God.  He paid the ultimate price for us.  He came searching for us.   And, maybe right now, he’s searching for you.

Do You Choose to Follow Jesus?

I love the idea of Jesus dying for me, but I don’t want to suffer and die on a cross.  The pain.  The suffering.  The shame.  I mean he died a public death in front the whole world.  He was executed!  And, that’s about the last thing on the world I’d want to endure.

So, I have a dream.  And, in my dream I die of cardiac arrest, and I go to heaven.  God speaks to me and tells me that I can go back to earth on a special mission.  I’ll be his man.  I’ll be a preacher.   Many will turn to him and be saved!   I’m ready to say, “Here I am, send me”…then, I hear these words.  “If you go back, you will be rejected.  Your friends will turn on you.  You will be preaching in the Middle East.  In the end, they will crucify you and behead you.”  And, in my dream, I pause.  I’m not sure what to say, and then I wake up.

What was my choice going to be?

The Jesus gospel sounds so great until you’re put in the place of giving your all.

I want you to hear what Jesus said (Matthew 13:44-46):

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,  who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Imagine you find a tract of land in Baldwin County, Alabama, that has oil reserves to rival those of Saudi Arabia.  Billion of barrels beneath those mossy oaks.  So, you beg and you borrow.  You have nothing left but the Thrift Store clothes on your back, but you scrape up enough to do it.  You buy that field.    It was the only choice.  It cost you everything.  It cost you nothing.

And, that’s the way it is with following Jesus.  The stakes are high.  The reward is great.  It will cost you everything, and it will cost you nothing.

So, what’s your choice going to be?

This One Thing I Do

Tonight Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off in the last presidential debate before the November election.  I could post a million reasons why you should vote for one candidate over the other.  I could write about why you shouldn’t vote for either one.

But, I won’t.

I want to give you a challenge.  I want to see just how good you are at paying attention.

So, the challenge is – “Count how many times players wearing white pass the ball.”

After watching this video, did you see the gorilla?  You see, about half the people get so busy watching the basketball, so focused on the moving target…that they miss the gorilla that walks right through the frame.  And, if you’re looking for the gorilla, you miss other things…like the changing of the color of the curtain, or that a player exits the game.

If you really focus on something…you might just miss other things.

So, we are as a nation quite focused on the national election.   I have to ask myself, did I miss something?    Did we miss something?

There’s a passage that comes to mind.  It’s literally a heaven or a hell passage:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

When I read these words from Matthew 25, I have to wonder, am I seeing Jesus in my everyday life?  Or, am I so focused on things like a national election that I’ve missed the most important.

Have I seen Jesus in the eyes of a needy child?

Have I recognized Jesus in the voice of my coworker who needs encouragement?

Have I truly embraced the presence of the living God in the outcries of the man who showed up at church simply looking for a job?

I challenge you to open your eyes.  See the invisible people.  See the invisible God.  He’s right here all along.

And, when you do, you can know that the most exciting thing that’s happening is that God’s reign is breaking out in this world.  His will is being done.  His kingdom is being born into this world.

And, while there may be a debate on tonight…it doesn’t represent the most important choice in our world.  The choice you must make is to open your eyes to the divine presence that’s breaking forth.

Will you be a part of that kingdom, of that life?

Profile image by Krassotkin (derivative), Gage Skidmore (Donald Trump), Gage Skidmore (Hillary Clinton) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It Doesn’t Matter Where You Are (I Samuel 7)

The alarm sounded.  I was up at 2:30 AM!  Wow!  My folks even gave me a phone call.  I was ready.  Showered, drove to the church.  Met the Nicaragua mission team at the Central Church of Christ, and off we went.  Got to Birmingham, and it happened.  We boarded the plane.  Seated and ready for takeoff, we hear this announcement, “We’re having some technical difficulties with the fire protection in the luggage compartment.  Let’s go ahead and deplane and we’ll call the mechanic.”  It turns out the mechanic was not found, and we didn’t get to fly to Managua, Nicaragua, that day.  So, we headed back to Tuscaloosa.  Never been to Sunday church in shorts before.

Next day.  The alarm sounds!  I am up at 2:30 AM!  My folks call me (again).  Showered and ready, I meet Bill Rayburn at the Central Church of Christ building and we head to Birmingham.  Turns out it’s the same flight, same time, with American.  And, it turns out that problem had not been fixed, and our flight was cancelled.

Cancelled!

There was more than one honeymoon that was delayed.  One lady was bringing all the preparation for a beautiful wedding in Jamaica.  Another was just headed to her work.  We were missing important mission work.  We were all frustrated.

It had been quite the hassle.  Two days of waking up before the crack of dawn.  Two trips to Birmingham.  Hours of haggling with American Airlines agents.  Lines.  Did I mention lines.  I may or may not have lost my cool a time or two the first day.  I definitely got riled up the second.  I mean…why didn’t they fix the plane?

We rebooked through United and finally made our way down there that night.

Whew!  We got to where we wanted to be!  What a relief.  I had recently been told that I needed to work on my patience.   Got in some really good training there.

When we finally made it to the Managua Best Western and began our work with the churches here,  we were ecstatic.   We were where we wanted to be.  We were where we saw God as moving us in his mission.  We were going to minister to hundreds of children and carry out all the work we had done to give them a memorable and effective week of VBS.

Have you ever gotten where you want to be in life?

Somewhere you’ve worked for?  Maybe it was years in college.  Maybe it was years of courting that beautiful girl.  Maybe it was hours or practice.  Maybe it was hard work and dedication and perseverance that finally paid off.

Well, David could relate to that.

Think of all he went through.  He was anointed by Samuel as a young guy.  He was told he would be king.  But, he wasn’t yet.  He faced a giant.  He put up with the madness of a jealous king.  He wandered in the wilderness.  He hid in caves.  He fought in battles.  His family was taken from him (but he rescued them).  He saw the death of his best friend Jonathan.  And, through it all he persevered and kept standing in that line, waiting for God to do what he believe God has promised.  He waited to see the goodness of the Lord.  And, there it was.  He was crowned king.

He had gotten all he wanted.  All he had waited for.

Or, did he?

What did David really want?

Did he want to be in a particular place?  Did he really want the palace more than anything else?

Well, it turns out, not really.  He didn’t want a place for himself so much as he wanted a place for God.

In II Samuel 7, we read that the newly crowned King David wants something from God.  He wants to build him a palace.  He wants to build a temple in which to place the ark of the covenant.  He wants to make God great in the eyes of the people.  He wants a place for Him!

Think about that.  When you get to the place you want to be, is that really the place you want to be?

Yogi Berra wasn’t too far off when he say, “Wherever you are, there you’ll be!”

Here’s the thing.  David didn’t really want a geographic place for himself.  He didn’t really want a status nor a throne.  Do you know where David really wanted to be?

We don’t have to wonder.  He told us in Psalm 27:4,

“One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.”

In the words of the song, David just wanted to be where God is.  He didn’t want a throne if God wasn’t there.  He didn’t want a pasture if God wasn’t there.  And, I can tell you this, David would have been happy to wait in line at the American Airlines counter if he knew God was there.

Now, I have to tell you, sometimes I get caught up in my location and status.  I want to be where I want to be when I want to be there.  How about you?  Do you admire those patient prayer warriors who seem to always be content with their situation?  I do.  I seem to have spiritual ADD.  I forget so many times and get distracted from this primary fact that I want to share with you.

God is here.

He’s here in Managua in the hearts of the servants serving children.  He’s here in the hotel.  He’s even at the airport at the counter.  Why?

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” I Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that at the airport, you are the presence of God there?

Do you not know that at the restaurant, God is with you?

Do you not know that late at night and early in the morning and all through your day, you have something that is so precious and so special that it made a king beg.  What is it?

God’s temple is here.  You are it.

Sometimes we get so frustrated with the world.  Well, that’s ok.  There are frustrating things.  But, we are God’s presence renovating it.  We are God’s hands touching it.  We are God’s feet going to help.  We are God’s mind thinking the thoughts that transform that world.  And, when we realize that, we can know that we have the very thing we’ve wanted all along.  The only thing that will satisfy.

David said that “a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside,” Psalm 84:10.  I can say a day WITH GOD even if it’s haggling with airlines is better than a thousand WITHOUT him.

Why?

“In his presence is fullness of joy”, Psalm 16:11.

Let’s be the temple.  Let’s be the presence of God in the world.

Why I’m A Christian: Walking…but Not Alone

“In the end, all you have is yourself.”

That’s a great quote, except that it’s not true.

Sometimes I even feel like that.  In fact, I am tempted to wear it as a sort of badge of honor.  You know, all I need is me.

The problem is, it’s not true.

Last Saturday sort of proved it to me.  Over 180 people gathered together to do a Walk4Water event.   If you’d like to know more, you can read about it here.   It was spearheaded by Christ followers who just wanted to help some people in need.

We raised money, met our fundraising goal, and had a good time.

But, one image sticks with me.

12928261_10156754621915486_7029412548908728249_n

 

When you’re walking with Christ followers, you’ll never walk alone.

It may seem like you walk alone.  It may be your experience for some time, but they are out there.  They’re pulling for you.  They’re right beside you.

1 John 3:16  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Colossians 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,

John 17:23  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

 

Three Questions You Must Ask About the Resurrection

Do you believe in the resurrection of Christ?

If it’s not true, then forget about Christianity.  If it is true, then you’ve got some serious things to consider.   This is HUGE for your life, and you really need to take the time to ask three simple questions. 

Three Questions You Must Ask About the Resurrection

1.  Have you considered the evidence?

Have you ever heard of Simon Greenleaf?  If you’ve ever gone to Harvard Law, you would.  He was one of its main founders.  An agnostic in early life, he was challenged to apply his legal prowess to investigate the testimonies of the resurrection.   So, he held the gospel accounts to the same standards he would hold any other legal testimony.  What was his conclusion?

Either the men of Galilee were men of superlative wisdom, and extensive knowledge and experience, and of deeper skill in the arts of deception, than any and all others, before or after them, or they have truly stated the astonishing things which they saw and heard.

So, he became a believer.  But, you must make your own examination.  Now, remember his motto was simple.  He was going to go where the evidence led him.  Shouldn’t you?

As you’re examining the evidence, here’s a question that you must ask.

2.  What about the apostles?

What I mean is, why did the Apostles choose to hold fast to the testimony of the resurrection in the face of persecution and martyrdom?  Here were a group of guys from various backgrounds.  Some were fishermen.  One was a tax collector, working for the Romans.  Others wanted to overthrow the Romans.  Some were uneducated.  Some were highly educated.  Why did this diverse group stick to the same proclamation that defined them?

If it wasn’t true, then why not recant?  I’d examine that question very throughly.

3.  What about resurrection people?

I don’t normally go to funerals.  But, I went to the one for Mandy Latner.  I’ve literally never seen anything like it. If you want to get a feel for what it was like, check this out.

The building was packed with former students, “adopted” kids, friends, family, a professional acapella group, and about 50 firemen who stood for the hour and fifteen minute service.  While there were several hundred at the service, hundreds more had come that afternoon just to sign the book that was completely full by the time I got to it.

As we went through the line, there was a bucket, which we could fill with notes.  The explanation was that Mandy was a “bucket filler.”  She showed love every day.  She filled people’s buckets.

You see, when you encounter a resurrection person, it’s much easier to believe in a resurrected Savior.

What The Resurrection Means

You see, the resurrection isn’t just about Jesus being physically arisen.  It’s not just about us one day being physically rising from the grave, even though that’s important.   It’s about Christians living life with a resurrected spirit and mind.  It’s’s about being born again to a new life. This is the life of Christ going on today in his body.  It’s the beginning of the new creation.

That’s how I see it, and I’m willing to stake my life on it.

How about you?  Will you dare to answer these three questions?

Featured Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Why I’m Simply a Christian: Sola Scriptura

The bomb goes off.

flickr photo by vaXzine https://flickr.com/photos/vaxzine/3463485198 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
flickr photo by vaXzine https://flickr.com/photos/vaxzine/3463485198 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

The Apocalypse

They find themselves residing in a deserted island.  Far away from civilization.  Distant land from the fallout.  They are alone.   A child grows up in this post-apocalypse and finds a Bible.  There are no rules.  There are no traditions.  He reads the words of the old worn-out Bible.  He gets to know the Creator.  He falls for the story of redemption.  He starts to tell others about it.

flickr photo by muha... https://flickr.com/photos/muha/1016691310 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
flickr photo by muha… https://flickr.com/photos/muha/1016691310 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The Start

People start simply following the Bible.  It’s simple.  It’s pure.  They have faith in the Savior.  They turn to follow him.  They confess him as Lord.  They are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.

They love each other.  There are no special programs.  There are no flashy signs.  There isn’t even an acoustic guitar.  No seminaries. There are no choirs.  No robes.  No clerical collars nor even Sunday suits.  No sects.

They meet each week to remember his death.  They celebrate his resurrection.  They love each other.   They sing and pray.  They read from the Word and discuss it.  They commune together as they take the Lord’s supper, enjoying fellowship and sharing the bond of the Word.

Sola Scriptura

They simply love the Lord.  They love each other.  And, what is their guide?  Sola Scriptura.  The seed produces fruit after its kind.  Simply Christians.   They are full of the Spirit and bonded together in love.

Isn’t that enough?

Featured image credit: flickr photo by __o__ https://flickr.com/photos/__olga__/3935059442 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

 

10 Rules for Dynamite Christian Blogging

You start a Christian blog.  It’s a great opportunity to share God’s dynamite message (Romans 1:16).    You hit the “Publish” button.  A like comes in!  Someone shared it!  Wait…it’s your mother.  Then…nothing else.

You feel like giving up.  What do you do?

Don’t despair.  I have a plan for you.    It’s how I’ve had

  • 10,000+ views in a little over 2 months of blogging.
  • 5,000+ visits to a single post in my first month.
  • 1,000+ views on the very day that I’m writing this.

Disclaimer:  I will be posting several links as examples.  This doesn’t mean I endorse everything these authors write.  

1.  It is about you.

If you want to be like Jesus, you have to bleed.  Are you willing to share your story as a passionate, authentic Christ follower?     People want to know a real person.

The post that has gotten me the most views was a very personal post.  I felt a little nervous sharing it.

Here are some examples of people who really bare their soul.

  • Anything Bob Goff writes
  • William P. Young’s blog and books

2.  It’s not about you.

Jesus was all about the needs of others.  He was a master connector.  You have to think beyond yourself.  Here’s your plan:

  • Write things people want and need.  It isn’t just about what you’re interested in.  You could share a post 100 times, and it would stop there.  Share it 1 time, and have 100 people share it,  and then their friends share it…that’s called going viral.

Example:  Jon Acuff – Work Can be Awesome.

  • Build a network with other bloggers.  Jeff Goins did a great job with this.  It involved building a real network and doing lots of guest posting.

Reference:  Goins, Writer on guest posting.

  • Build an email list.  There’s gold in that list.  Wes McAdams of Radically Christian said that this is vitally important.  One reason is that it gives you control.  You’re not relying on an outside source (say, Facebook) to allow you to connect.

Reference:  Michael Hyatt on building an email list.

3. Make it understandable.

Say something important.   Use short sentences.    Break long paragraphs up into shorter ones.   Use words that are understandable.

Jesus used the parables.  You should, too.

Examples:

4.  Make it emotional.

Why is Max Lucado so popular?    He writes in a way that evokes emotion.  He makes you feel.

What about Jesus?  His story is the most emotional of all.  John 3:16.

Not only do you have to bleed and share authentic work, but you also have to make others feel like they are right there with you.    You’ve got to make them feel.

Examples:

  • Max Lucado’s blog and all of his books
  • Look at all of the viral websites (ViralNova, BuzzWorthy, etc.).  They are designed around evoking emotion.

5.  Make it something that connects to people’s deeply held beliefs and identity.

I’m convinced this is why my most popular post is being shared.

You might write informational, instructive posts, but you have to get people emotionally involved.  Not just feeling it for themselves, but feeling a burden to share the message.

You have to address their deeply held beliefs and get right to WHO they are.

Examples:

6.  Hit a homerun with your title.

Readers are deciding fast.  Pull them in with the title.  If the title is emotional and appeals to deeply held beliefs and identity, then you are gold.  They will share that!  But, you have to work at this!

Here’s how:

7.  Don’t forget the little picture.

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat.   Get the picture?  Make your featured image grab people.

How to do it:

  • Take an engaging picture.  Click here for an example.
  • Find a great picture from a paid stock service.   I use Adobe Stock photos.  Click here for an example.
  • Use a free service like Unsplash.
  • Add a logo and title.  Example here.  I used Lee Snow for my logo, and I am very happy with his work.

8.  Keep their attention.

With a fascinating title and a captivating image, people will click on your post.  But, will they read it?

You have to make their eyes move down the page.

How?

  • Lists
  • Headers
  • Images

I hate lists.  But, they work.  Don’t take out the emotion.  Don’t take out the story.  But, put it in a list.  Use bullets.  Use pictures throughout the post.

9.  Facebook is your friend.

Here are the three things you need to know:

  • Create a Facebook fan page.  Here’s how.
  • Invite all your friends to ‘Like’ your page.   The problem:  It takes forever to select your 2,000 or so friends. Solution:  Do it all at once with a little help.  Here’s how.
  •  Try Facebook ads.  Targeting is key.  Experiment.  This is key to how I got over 5,000 visits to a post my first month.  After you get likes on your post, invite them to like your page.

10.  Wow them.

People invest their time into your posts.  Let’s say 12,000 people invest 1 minute in your post.  That’s about 5 work weeks.  Don’t waste their time.  Give them something of value…not only is it the right thing to do…it’s what makes people share it.

As Michael Hyatt says, “Start with Wow!”

 Why

Here’s why I share this with you.  I believe that most of my readers are involved in the most important work in the world.  We’re doing the work that truly matters.  We’re involved in the bigger story of what God is doing.  Now, given the importance of our message and work, shouldn’t we do our best to make that message attractive?  That’s all this is about.

 After all, it’s not about me.

You Make a Difference: More Than You Think

  • When you shine your light, you make a difference (Matthew 5:16).
  • When you are different, you make a difference (I Peter 2:9).
  • When are steady and don’t give up, you make a difference (I Corinthians 15:58).
  • When you want more than anything to know Christ, you make a difference (Philippians 3).
  • When you work with passion and excellence, you make a difference (Colossians 3:23; Ecclesiastes 9:10).
  • When you forgive like Christ for gave you, you make a difference (Ephesians 4:32).
  • When you choose to be filled with the Spirit instead of spirits, you make a difference (Ephesians 5:18-19).
  • When you worship from the heart, you make a difference (Acts 16:16-40, Acts 2:42-44).
  • When kids grow up and want to be like Christ because of you, you make a difference (Ephesians 5).
  • When your legacy is eternal and is more valuable than the whole world, you make a difference (Matthew 16:26).

The Star-Fish Story

Loren Eisley tells this story:

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.       

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

Would you make a difference for one today?

It might seem that you’re not making any difference in the world, but remember this.  Man can count the numbers of apples on a tree.  Only God can count the number of trees in an apple.   And, it might not seem that your efforts are making a great impact, but who knows?  Maybe you are changing the world.  And, maybe you are changing the world of one.

Flavil Nichols tells are beautiful story about the power of one.

flavil_young

During the war between the states, a young woman learned the truth and obeyed the gospel. Her sweetheart, J. H. Halbrook, was a confederate soldier. He was captured by the union army and kept a prisoner in Michigan until the war was over. He was given a ticket to Nashville, Tennessee and $2.50. From there, he returned to Centerville and found what was left of his home and family. He found his girlfriend and they were married. His wife studied the Bible with him, and he soon became a Christian. He thought the truth was so good and so simple that he began to teach and baptize many of his friends and neighbors. He began to preach, but he recognized his need for more training, so he came to the original Mars Hill Bible School, taught by T. B. Larimore. Upon completing his studies there, instead of going back to Tennessee, they moved farther south, coming into Walker, Marion, Fayette, and Lamar counties in Alabama. One of his many converts was Charley Alexander Wheeler. His wife taught him to read from the Bible. Along with his wife, C. A. Wheeler obeyed the gospel and soon began preaching to others. He started more than 100 congregations and baptized more than 6,000 people.

But wait, the story is not ended! One of those 6,000 was my father, the late Gus Nichols! Twelve thousand were baptized under his preaching.

Among those baptized by Gus Nichols, no one knows, nor can know, how many began to preach “the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3,4); but I personally know several. I, Flavil Nichols, am ONE whom he baptized and whom he encouraged to preach the truth. And under my preaching, about three thousand have been baptized. A few among them preached the gospel, also!

Only eternity can reveal the total results of the conversion of that one girl nearly one hundred fifty years ago. The results are not yet all in! But this shows that TWENTY ONE THOUSAND people have become Christians through this single thread in the fabric of her influence.

“Go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). YOU are important, too! Dear reader, if you go to heaven, others probably will be saved by you! “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Each ONE is important.

So, dear reader, know that you can make a difference.   I think I’ll go do that!