Alright, here are the rules. Write a 500-2000 word fictional short story of any genre. Post it in my comments to this particular Writing Contest post.
1) It must be clean (no graphic sex or cussing) …not that I think you guys would post something like that, but I have to make sure
2) I will be the judge, but I will try to get two other judges to help if I can find two others willing to be judges
3) You must have your entry in by August 9th
4) I will announce the winner on August 16th (unless I get completely flooded… in which I reserve the right to postpone the announcement of the winner)
5) You must subscribe to either of my blogs (hehehe… tricky eh?) and I must have your email (you can put it in your post)
6) The winner gets a $20 gift certificate to Chili’s or a restaurant of their choosing (as long as I can easily buy the gift card from my home town)
7) Have fun with it and good luck
Alrighty, I’m doing something fun on my other blog dedicated solely to writing. I want to write a story with you. That’s right with you! So grow some bravery (there’s another way to say that) and let’s have some fun and write a story together. It doesn’t have to be completely serious, just fun.
My writing blog is: http://scott-fantastyandfiction.blogspot.com
Ok, so on my other blog its harder to comment. We’ll do the fun writing exercise here. So I’ll write the first line here. Then you write the second sentence and then someone else will write the third… and on and on…
First line (you might notice that I like medieval fantasy):
The knight charged on his pearl-white steed toward the foreboding castle. (Now you write the next line)
Ok, so I was trying to think of what to write today and I’ve been working on creating a personal financial support page through e3. I can’t figure it out… argghhh!!! Being a typical male, I don’t ask for directions; therefore, I just press out on my own and figure it out. I guess that maybe I want the satisfaction of figuring it out myself. Or maybe its fumbling through the numerous help menus or the emails to the help desk, with no quick fix in sight, that drive me crazy? Or maybe its having to wait to get the right person on the phone? Shouldn’t they be at my every beckon call? Do you sense some frustration here?
Well, I really think that the problem is my technology retardation… ehem… technological challengedness. That accompanied with my I-need-it-right-now-American-cultural-upbringing that causes me to… Question, have you ever cussed? Oh, me neither. Anyway, once I figure some particular pattern of technology out, I can usually figure out any other technologies that run by the same computer language or similar technology. But it usually takes me hours just to figure it out before I have to ask for help. That USUALLY happens. But not today. Today I figure out on my own.
For the rest of us, who aren’t technological gurus, isn’t that similar to how we often approach our relationship with God. Life’s busy. I have plans. I need dreams to come to fruition now! I need to figure out the quick fix for my marriage, friend, family, business, etc… now!
WAYS THAT GOD SPEAKS TO US
Did you know that God mainly speaks through 4 main ways? He speaks through the bible. This is His main way of speaking to us. Its the measuring stick for all other ways that He speaks (2 Timothy 3:15-17). In other words, you can test whether God is speaking to you in any other way besides the bible, by reading and knowing the scriptures.
THE BIBLE: I know, I know. Some of you are saying, “but Scott the bible is so hard to read and figure out.” I know. Sometimes it can be just downright boring and tedious. Like a help menu? Come on admit it. Have you ever been frustrated by Jesus’ parables. There’s been times when I’ve wanted Jesus to just shoot it strait and quit using analogies that I don’t understand. In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened”
Some people take these verses to mean that God is going to give you exactly what you want when you seek it and ask for it. Well, to those, who claim this, I agree and disagree with you. Here’s how I agree with you. Pslam 37:4 says it all: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
The thing is Jesus rarely wants you to give you the quick answer. When you seek you must seek after God (Jesus) not after the promotion, that perfect mate, that perfect house, the six figure salary,etc… So in some ways this is also how I disagree with those who interpret these verse to mean that God will give you what you want, when you want. Its not that God doesn’t want you to have good things. He’s fine with that if its going to work in His plan. But He’s a gazillion times more concerned with you seeking him out. And when you do that, it can take time and effort. Then He starts to change and conform your heart to His. So that whatever God wants becomes what you want. And believe me, there is no quick fix in all of this.
GOD SPEAKING THROUGH OTHER CHRISTIANS: God also speaks through Christians. You mean those hypocrites? Yes, I mean even them, which we can all be from time to time. Some of you may be thinking, “If I tell them that I need help here, then their view of me is going to go down the tube.” This is often my thought, as a person who relies on financial support for his ministry and living. Find a safe Christian, who realizes that perfection, outside of God’s grace, is a myth, no matter how high your standing is in the Christian community. I have a Christian or two that I confide in when I run into a problem that I can’t solve, which I’ve usually created. Or at least I call them up when I get the guts up to ask them for help. This is a problem of mine. I admit.
GOD SPEAKING THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES: God speaks through circumstances. Everyone loves this one and claims this one. You know what I’m saying here… like, “Hey I saw a shooting star last night and my church basketball mascot is the Shooting Stars. So basically God told me, through that shooting star, that we are going to win the game. Or better yet, we are going to become a pro team!” Well, in case you think that God doesn’t speak through crazy random acts and details read my blog article called “Stories from Nicaragua: Making Disciples makes us greater Disciples” (under my mission’s blog categories)
So I do believe that God can speak to us through seemingly random or extraordinary circumstances. But you need to search your heart and the scriptures deeply on this one. If you’re claiming that God is leading you to have an affair “because this was really my soulmate that I never knew and I heard a song last night called ‘soul mate’ “, then you can pretty much count that one out. The scriptures are very clear that adultery is never condoned by God. He would never lead you that way. Sometimes we just want things so bad because we think they are going to fix things or help us to escape some pain. If you sense any of this type of motivation as having the tiniest bit of a factor in you hearing God speaking to you through some circumstance, then that is probably not God’s will or His voice you are hearing. So search your heart and the scriptures before you decide that God is speaking to you through some circumstance.
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH PRAYER: It was the end of the summer between my senior year in High School and freshman year in college. I had already pledged to a fraternity. As a Christian, I wouldn’t necessarily advise this. But I was going to live in the house with the brothers and other pledges. Basically I was getting ready to live in the midst of Sodom and Gomorrah. Again not the best plan. What was I thinking? Would I be beer bonging for Jesus? (ok, I could’ve been in it to try to reached some lost people. But that wasn’t my motivation. So severe sarcasm intended)
So I decided to pray for at least one Christian friend. I guess God had mercy on me, in-spite of my poor decision. When I walked up to my room that was pre-assigned to me, I noticed that my room mate, whom I didn’t know yet, had already set up camp, so to speak. He had a couple of pictures on our dresser. I had never seen him before. And his bed was already made. On top of his perfectly straightened bed was a Bible! After I met him and asked him about it, Pat told me that he put it there so that whoever his room mate was going to be, that’d be me, would know that he was a Christian. Hence, God speaks through prayer!
Pray, pray, pray. Make time. The more you do it, the more you’ll find yourself delighting in the Lord and the more you’ll find Him giving you the desires of your new heart. If you keep spending energy seeking out God, you’ll find yourself talking to Him and hearing from Him even when you’re not trying to spend energy focusing on Him. But it takes time and energy to get into the habit. Seek Him out, Knock on His Door , Ask Him for things/situations that you want and watch your relationship grow with him.
The bottom line is that God is not very interested in the quick fix. Sure he’ll give you some things and help you out in some areas. But He wants a relationship with you first and foremost. And it takes time and energy to foster any kind of relationship. He just doesn’t want to be an acquaintance either. He wants a deep personal relationship with you like a brother or a father. So He’s not always going to give you what you want the first time you ask Him. And He’s not going to always give you the straight forward answer or story upfront. He wants your energy, your focus and especially your heart before he delivers on His promise in Matthew 7:7-8.
Oh yeah, and don’t give up because you’re not getting something you want. I tend to do this and then try to strike out on my own. I hate to admit it. But I kinda tell God, “If you’re not going to help me here, then I’ll figure out by myself.” We need him above anything. Besides when I strike out on my own I always come back to the conclusion of: What’s the point without God?
All for Jesus,
It was the last day of our campaign and we wanted to give the numerous kids, who’d come to our afternoon meetings something to remember the week that they’d heard about Jesus the Savior. So we bought some small toys. Little whistles, power rangers, plastic animals, teapots, etc… They are miniscule toys to our American eyes, but these kids in Christo Rey, Nicaragua have nothing, no toys.
We’d averaged around 60-75 kids a day at our meetings with bible story skits and sharing the Gospel. So we bought 110 of these wee-little toys, thinking that we’d be safe. But even then I was contemplating not handing out the toys. We had already gone to the market and then the mud of the village. There was no turning back. I thought that maybe the local pastor could hand them out discreetly around Christmas time. We prayed and decided that we’d hand out the toys anyway and we prayed that God would make a way so that every child received a toy.
On that last day, I’d never seen so many kids during a mission campaign. As we lined them up, we gave each one a toy as they passed us by. Sounds organized right? Wrong. It was pure chaos. Kids were trying to come back through the line to grab a second toy. The line was more of a mass. Spanish words were flying around like a giant flock of seagulls being fed bread by tourists on the beach. There weren’t enough interpreters to stem the tide. I know some Spanish, especially in short slow phrases. But it was all flowing out too fast and in such abundance I could discern none of it.
As the kids kept coming and coming, I was praying for a “fish and loaves” type of miracle. There were just too many. And we were running out of toys fast. The line finally started to diminish a bit, but we were almost out of toys. As the last child went through the line, we handed her the last toy. That means we had 110 kids that day and that God indeed made a way! We didn’t know how many would show up, but He knew.
When you put yourself in situations where you have no choice, but to depend on Him, God will show up in amazing ways, especially when you are serving others and sharing his life changing message. So take a risk. Share the Gospel with your neighbor. Go on a trip to do so in India or Nicaragua or Timbuktu or wherever. If you take a risk for Him, you will experience Him in an amazing encounter like never before. Its what happens when you live a life “on mission”.
I’m really planning on being consistent with posting on my blog. But I will probably not post much on Saturdays or Sundays. However, here’s a verse to contemplate for tonight. Romans 8:28 ” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” I’d love to hear your thoughts on this verse.
My plan was to split the team in Christo Rey (one of four different villages we worked in) into 2 or 3 teams, but we had several people who had rarely ever shared their faith in Jesus before. So I needed to take all 9 of the team members, as a whole, with me to share the gospel with someone in the village.
I would do the sharing, as a kind of way to show how it’s done. Well I asked my interpreter and native of Christo Rey, Jorje (George), to think and pray about who we should speak to first. After several minute s of walking, Jorge said, “I know who. We’ll go to the meanest woman in the village!” I thought to myself, “No, someone easier. Anyone, but the meanest woman in the village, especially when I’m supposed to be showing how its done.” As we walked, I prayed, “Lord help?” Well after surrounding this poor lady, telling her about Jesus and the shedding a few tears, Mallorca accepted Jesus, as her personal savior! By the way, she is no longer the meanest woman in the village.
What If the Disciple Being Made is the Disciple Maker?
Joshua Gaarz is my new friend and International Church Planter in training for e3partners. I met and talked with Josh for about 4 hours before the rest of the team showed up in Nicaragua. He told me his life story. Josh has only been a Christian since last September, when he found a verse that changed his life: Philippians 4:13. He found the verse written on his son’s stuffed animal. It was the verse that God used to bring him to Jesus. You see he was inches from becoming a professional hockey player and 13 was always his number. As he continued to share all of the numerous instances where that verse changed his life. I thought to my self, “Come on, was that really God?” Then being the great spiritual person that I am (lots of sarcasm here), I thought better of it. I looked at Josh and said, “Never lose that ability to see God in the small details of life.” I guess that was the godly thing to say.
What many of you don’t know about me is that I’m naturally a skeptic, except I happen to be saved and have the Holy Spirit or else I’d probably be an atheist. God, of course, has used even my natural skeptical tendencies to research all of the questions that skeptics have. God did this so that I may be able to help guide skeptical people to Him! Isn’t it cool how God works! Romans 8:28.
Now back to the story. Everyday Josh went into his village during our Nicaragua campaign, there was a group of drunk gangsters that stood at a corner and threatened him and his team. They would yell out to Josh’s interpreters (in Spanish), “Hey! You should rob those Americans you’re with and we’ll split the money.” Josh obviously felt threatened everyday, until Wednesday. That was when Josh took his favorite verse literally (shouldn’t we always do that?). He walked up to the ring leader of the gang and shared the gospel with him. The Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way and that leader of thugs decided that he needed Jesus. Well before he was going to pray to Jesus, he wanted to look presentable. So he took the bandana off of his head, only it was a shirt folded in some gangster way. As he started to unfold the shirt over his bare chest, in english, the shirt read, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Wait that’s not all! Josh was so excited about the gangster coming to Christ that he immediately went and bought his whole team some juices. Here’s the kicker. On his juice container written at the very bottom was the the life changing verse Philippians 4:13 AGAIN! He showed it to me that evening when all of the different teams came back to base. They next day the gangster leader was no longer with his old crew. When Josh asked the gangsters where he was, they said he quit drinking and hanging with us!
Now you may be thinking, “Wow Scott, you really discipled Josh by reminding him to see God in the details.” Well, I actually believe that God used Josh to disciple me, to change me. So that amazing faith that Josh had to see God in the details, through that life changing verse, changed me. When you’re on a mission (this could be in the good ole USA) where your dependency on God is heightened, He tends to change you, even a veteran foreign missionary like myself!