1. Not Every Heart is Ripe for Picking
Something happened to me when I was on a bus going from Iowa to North Carolina in January 2004. I was sitting in my seat reading a book by an amazing Pastor in Georgia, and a lady came to share my seat with me. She asked what I was reading, so I showed her. She said to me, “that is my Pastor.” I looked at her with wide eyes and as I looked into her eyes, I saw a beauty that I had never seen before. It was like I had taken out my own eyes and was seeing this woman through the eyes of God. Later that evening, while we were still on that trip, I was listening to some music on my headphones. I looked down to change the song, and I saw the reflection of my own eyes, and something that I had never seen before. I saw a girl who was once hurting so bad that she tried to end her own life. I saw a reflection of what could have been my life had I not accepted Christ into my heart. And that was death. Not just a death as in a burial in a cemetery, but a death that keeps killing and keeps killing, because in hell, you cant die from the torment because you’re already dead. I looked to my right and saw the young man next to me being tortured just the same. Suddenly I was back on the bus staring out the window.
How can I make it stop? I asked God. The only response I got was a peaceful smile from my Spirit. After we had stopped at the next town, this young kid, maybe 15 or 16 looked at me and he asked, “Are you a Christian? There is something in your eyes, something that I’ve never seen before.” My Spirit ached for him. I wanted to grab him and tell him that the drugs he is doing is killing him, and the place he will end up will only be more torment for all of eternity. I turned to face the window again allowing the tears to flow. The woman who sat with me earlier came and sat with me again. She put her hand on mine and said, “sweetie, not every heart is ripe for picking, but the seeds have been planted.” How did she know what I was thinking? How did she know just what to say to me? Well, sometimes God puts on a suit of flesh to give us our answers. This woman sat with me until we got to Greensboro, North Carolina.
When she walked away I felt like my best friend was walking away. We had only shared a few brief words about traveling, but she gave me a Word from God that was right on time and perfect. I don’t know her name, and I don’t know where she is now, and I don’t know the name of that kid, either, but I know that the seed was planted, and some day, if not already, his heart will be harvested as the Lord commanded.
It was on that trip that I received the call for local missions. Why then? Why on a bus? I don’t know. Why something small like a seed planter? Why not something big, like a worldwide evangelist? That is not for me. God calls each of us to do a certain thing. We can’t all be preachers or we can’t all be missionaries.
There are big things in my life that I would like to do, but I can’t just start out there. This, I feel is what I have to do to end up in a larger place. But if God wants me to be a seed planter for the rest of my days here on earth, I’ll know that I am serving a most High God.
I think that world missions are a great way to serve God, but I know that to learn how to do that effectively, I must start at a local level. There is a large group of people right here in the United States that are going to go to hell because they never knew that Jesus loves them. Sure, they may be bombarded with giant Christian billboards and the Jesus fish stickers, but they have no idea that Jesus wants to have an intimate, personal relationship with them.
It was on that trip that I prayed for God to show me what to do with my life as a Christian. I had only been truly saved for six months, but I already knew that there was a huge calling on my life. So when I asked God, He answered me. What that woman said to me was just what I needed to hear.
Not every heart is ripe for picking, but the seeds have been planted. That was my calling. I know it’s not a big huge thing, but if the seed is never planted, it can’t be harvested. Sure, I have prayed with people to receive Jesus, but what about those people who were like me? I went to church since birth. I was baptized! I went to church camp and clapped my hands when we sang songs. So what! I still fell away. But if it weren’t for some very special people in my life that continued to pray for me while I was in the dark, than that seed would not have been planted so that my soul may be harvested later. There are people out there that are going to churches, giving their offering and even watching the children during service that are going to hell. That sounds a little far out, I know, but if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will just not make it. It doesn’t matter how many Saturday mornings you gave up to go and wash cars with the youth, or how many times you sat in the nursery with the babies during church service.
If you don’t know Jesus personally, than He wont know you personally. I don’t want to tell people that, it’s harsh, but I believe that it’s true. So what, you got wet in front of people, so you confessed that you love Jesus. If you really loved Him, you’d want to spend all the time you can with Him. That’s what you do with the people you love, isn’t it? You want to hang out with them, go get food, see a movie, sit and chat over coffee. When was the last time you sat and had a cup of coffee with Jesus? Just sat there and talked with Him? He’s listening, and wants to spend time with you.
It was right there that I missed it. I was going to church all the time, telling people I loved Jesus, wearing my Jesus loves you shirts. But I did not have a personal relationship with Him, and that is what made our relationship so easy to set aside when I left the church. I didn’t have to make up excuses to a good friend as to why we couldn’t hang out, He barely knew me, and I hardly knew Him. We were just acquaintances who saw each other on Sundays, but He remembered me when I came back, and like the lost son in Luke, Jesus welcomed me back with open arms as the father did for his son.
2. A Word for the Wise
One time after I was saved, and knew that I had to have a personal relationship with Jesus, I slipped. I was working at the church as an intern, serving in the Children’s Ministry, and even attending Ministry School. I felt like I was just slipping away. I was falling into terrible mood swings, very irritable, and just not happy anymore. I had lost my joy. I was starting to not want to go to “work” anymore, and I wasn’t keeping up with my schoolwork. And then one day, I realized just what was missing. I had not had a quiet time with Jesus for two weeks. WHAT?! How could that have happened? Well, one day turned in to three, my excuses were always the same, I’m too tired right now, I’ll do it before I go to bed, or I’ll get up early and just have an extra long quiet time in the morning. Well, three days turned into seven, then I was busy with my final paper, and then suddenly I was telling one of my best friends to shut up and leave me alone!
I thought I was going to lose it. I ran out of the church with my Bible and a notebook, and I went behind the church into the woods for three hours and sobbed and prayed for forgiveness, and then I just sat there and talked to Jesus. I know that I am forgiven for that, and I have not done it since. What made it worse is that afterward, I had to apologize to my friend, and tell them why I had said that.
I had gotten so busy serving the Lord that I forgot Him.
It was after that experience that I realized that I needed to get serious about my calling. I almost slipped away. I was thinking about quitting my internship and dropping out of school. I quickly learned that it was Satan trying to stop me from my calling. I had left a window open by not having my quiet times and he came right on in. I also know that that was a test for me. I didn’t do so great, but I came out of it with flying colors.
I realized right then, that we all need to have someone else hold us accountable for our actions. If we are the ones that are holding ourselves accountable, we will let ourselves slip.
So I started doing some research about local missions. I had a few meetings with some amazing outreach leaders at my church, did searches online, and had meetings with people from surrounding churches. I looked for places I could go on outreaches with some people from church, and one place kept coming to mind. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That is where I met the people that introduced me to Jesus, and that is where I was called to go back. But once again, I started to feel like I was failing at my calling. I was starting to get too big in it. I wanted souls, souls and more souls. I wanted the people on my team to be standing on trashcans yelling the Gospel out. Laying hands on the sick and seeing them recover. Casting out demons right there on the sidewalk! Nothing like that happened! But then I remembered, if the seed is never planted, it couldn’t be harvested. I saw some of the fruit being produced there before I left, and I am still hearing about it. The kids there always knew whom they should call if they were in trouble, and if you’re available for them than they will start hanging around the pool, and eventually get wet.
I didn’t get to see any of those kids fall to their knees and ask Jesus into their hearts with big tears in their eyes, but I get to rest in knowing that the seed was planted, and it just needs some time to grow. I can only pray now that someone will come along and see that fruit and pick it before it is too late.
I know that being a foreign missionary would be a great thing to do, and I know that in my future, God will allow me to go anywhere my heart desires and preach the Gospel, but He is the one who puts those desires there in the first place, and He put Iowa on my heart. So I answered the call. Here am I, Lord, send me. I Send You Out As a Sheep among the Wolves
I made the decision to move to Iowa in November of 2004. I was praying that God would lead me to a place where not only my faith could be strengthened, but it could also be shared. He said He wants me to go to my family. I automatically thought that He meant for me to move to Iowa right then, and I was willing to do so. But then in another session of fasting and intense prayer about this He said clearly. Your family is the church. I would not send you out into the wilderness without knowing what to do. So I continued my education at Living Word Ministry University. I also started studying Moses life. I learned so much about His faithfulness to God. And living on my modern day manna, a.k.a. ramen noodles, I felt like Moses was someone that I could truly relate to throughout my Christian walk.
He lived for 40 years in the wilderness with sheep before God gave him the Israelites. Why? So he wouldn’t kill them. He needed to know where to find food, shelter and learn the terrain. So I took my cue from Moses and began studying and diving deep into the Word of God.
I prayed harder, fasted more and I was seeing results in my prayer life. I saw people coming to the Lord. Random people on the street were making the decision to follow Christ. I was so on fire for God. I knew that if I could tell a complete stranger about Jesus, surely I could tell my family about Him. But it wasn’t that easy.
I finally felt like I was ready to make that big step. Things were falling into place. I had a job and a place to live in Iowa, and I just knew that God was preparing my heart for the big transition.
So I get to Iowa, start working, and get injured. So now I’m not working and I don’t have gas to get to the job I moved here for. What now, God? So I prayed some more, and fasted some more. I began to realize that this isn’t the desert time that many Christians experience.
This was it. The big calling on my life.
But this was not going how I saw it in my head. I saw people falling on their faces before God. I saw my family coming into repentance before the Lord. I saw weeping and praising and dancing before the King. Was that not my calling, Lord? I prayed. Am I not called to see my family come to know You? What do I do? How do I fix this? I had never felt so let down in my life, more so that I had let God down than just myself. But then I remembered. Not every heart is ripe for picking. I am here to plant the seeds! And seeds need time to grow! So why do I keep getting so far ahead of myself? Why can’t I just sit quietly and pray and be anxious for nothing? I have been taught that all things are possible for those who love and honor God, so why is this all taking so long? Why am I not singing and praising God with my family surrounding me? God has reasons.
It wasn’t instant for me to start praising God. It took three months of being in a church to even say that I wanted to give my life to Him.
So why am I trying to see such hardcore results in two months with a large number of people? My call is to plant the seeds and once they are ready, I’ll be there to pray with them when they decide to make that big life-changing decision.
Growing up in Iowa I have had some great opportunities for seedtime and harvest in the fields. My mother has had an amazing garden for years and I have gotten to help her with it for many years. She doesn’t just plant the seeds and then the next day there are four foot high vines full of plump tomatoes. It takes some time. Patience. I must go back to that if I want to see results of what God has planned for me. I have to just keep watering and waiting. Praying and fasting. The day will come, and I will be prepared for it.
3. What Kind of Christian Puts Holes In Her Body?
I still have big plans for local missions. But I think that it needs to go beyond just another outreach ministry. Handing out food to the hungry isn’t the same as preaching the Gospel to someone who is about to go to hell. It has been said, though, that you can’t preach to a hungry belly. Whatever. Sure, it’s nice of us as Christians to feed the hungry. But I don’t want to produce a bunch of soup Christians. I want to reproduce myself into others. I want to rest in knowing that the people I serve by going out to love on, are in it for Heavens sake, and not just the free meal, or a ride somewhere. I want to be culturally relevant to where I preach the Gospel. And I don’t think that I would be culturally accepted in Asia or Africa, or even Nicaragua, even though a part of my heart was left there on my mission trip. I will go back there to continue the work that God has started, but that time is not right now.
I know that my past is not my future, but I can use my past experiences to give others a future they can rest easy in. I may not look like a typical Christian, but I’m not trying to impress you, I’m trying to impress upon you, that not every person can reach every people group.
We all know that America is very diverse in ethnicity, social and personal lifestyles. There is nobody else on this earth than can reach the people that I can reach. That is why my call is so amazing. God planned from the beginning for me to do big things. I never planned to be a Christian when I started getting tattoos and piercings and other body modifications, but guess what, I have them, and God still loves me.
There are places here in this city that it is socially acceptable to walk around with metal shoved through your lips and cheeks and wherever else you can think of to put a piece of metal. So who better than I, to go to these places and serve God?
It doesn’t matter how gifted you are in missions; there is a line that cannot be crossed in some cultures. Some amazing evangelist would never step foot in a bar with the loud music and crazy looking people, and the people in there would never accept some of the clean cut, blue collar types.
So why not use what Satan meant for evil and turn it around and make it glorify God?
We are all called according to His riches and Glory, and this is how I can glorify Him. People don’t know that I have a hidden agenda when I walk into a bar and sit next to them sipping on my coke on the rocks. But when they start to feel that urge inside of them to seek that something that I have, I can praise God for letting me serve Him by planting a still small seed. And I can build a relationship with these people so that they can see that Christianity isn’t all about sitting in an uncomfortable pew singing hymns.
The Will of God will not be accomplished in our generation unless our generation answers the cry of the lost. I have been blessed, I guess, to be part of this generation that has been labeled unreachable by many denominations.
We have even been named, “those who are deemed incapable of love.”
I want to crush that lie from hell and get out there and mend the hearts of those who have been labeled incapable of love and believe that lie.
For many years before I was saved people would actually pull their children away from me as I walked by them. Strangers pointed and fell silent as I came near. Why? Because Satan was my master. They could see my insides on the outside.
All the pain and hate that I felt on the inside showed on the outside. Nobody dared hand me a tract, or even attempt to tell me about Jesus. They were scared of even coming near me. So I stayed in the darkness.
A family once crossed the street rather than passing me on the sidewalk. I was one of the unreachable of the generation, and I was doomed to hell, and it seemed like nobody cared. I’m not going to let my generation slip away to hell.
4. We Were Born For Battle, Without Vision, We Will Die!
During World War 2, The British lived on meager, poor rations and cut down their railings and sent them for weapons manufacture. That is hardcore. They loved their country so much that they were willing to set their own needs back a bit and give to the cause and that cause was to help win the battle.
So what are we doing for this spiritual battle that has been going on for over 2,000 years? We are living as if there is no battle and we are at peace. Well the enemy is attacking us more than ever, and he’s using Gods people to do the attacking. How? Were going day to day doing our regular stuff. Work, eat, watch television, go to bed, repeat.
God has blessed us with the opportunity to gain much, but I’m telling you, we’re losing it.
People are going to hell while were buying Christian books and C.D.s and going to the latest concert. Were traveling hundreds of miles to hear some popular preacher talk about blessings and having a great time doing it.
I’m guilty of it too. There are people in this world that don’t even have a Bible. I have six of them, and four of them are the same translation. I have shelves of Christian books to help me live a better Christian lifestyle.
Most of our media is not even designed for unbelievers; its entertainment for the saints. We are going about our Christian lives, dancing for Joy, full of the Holy Spirit while people go to hell. Why did God bother to give us the opportunity to gain wealth? So we can gorge ourselves on candy coated Christian merchandise?
People are going to hell without even hearing that Jesus loves them and no matter how much they have screwed up their lives, Jesus can forgive them, and He wants to have a personal relationship with them. Forever.
I’m not saying that we should get rid of our Christian merchandise and live only with our Bibles and faith that God will provide our every need. Well, we should, but the point is, we are wasting much of the time we should be serving God by learning how to be a more effective youth leaders assistants best friend. So what now? What do we do once we’ve read the latest book on “Witnessing to the Lost Generation?” WE GO OUT AND WITNESS TO THE LOST GENERATION! Its time we strap up our boots and go out there and kick Satan’s teeth in. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few, but we must do as it says in Matthew 11:12 “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” “And the violent take it by force.”
We need to step up. I can’t bear to think of people going to hell because I didn’t have the guts to tell them that Jesus loves them. You never know, your kind gesture or hello may be the thing that sends them over the edge into giving their life to Jesus.
We have got to start being doers of the Word and not just heavy readers of it. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and we, the harvesters, must prepare for the coming of the Lord. Because it’s by our fruit that we will show what we have been doing all these years.
Wake up, o, sleeper. Don’t let Jesus catch you sleeping. Don’t put off today what you should have done yesterday. I may be preaching to the choir, but faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
5. My Plot to Take All You Have
I am not writing all of this to get you fired up to send me some money or buy my latest book on the greatest technique. I’m writing this to tell you that this is my heart, and I need help.
There is no way I can do this on my own. I know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, but there are far too many people that will perish for the lack of knowledge that we daily indulge in.
When I get to Heaven I want to hear, well done, good and faithful servant, in you I am well pleased. And to hear those sweet words I need accountability in my quiet times, my witnessing, and my church attendance and with my playmates. I am far away from my comfort zone, and I do not want to get comfortable with my surroundings here. I want you all to know my heart so you can help me keep in track with what is really on it.