St Patrick Search and Rescue

IMG_4575
We are grateful to God for a great afternoon at the St Patrick’s parade on Tuesday.

IMG_4587
About 40 friends gathered downtown to pass out the “History of St Patrick” gospel tract, including many children whose parents were coaching them on tract-distribution.

People love the opportunity to dress up in their funny green attire, and this simply gives us more ways to start conversations with them!

“I like your hat!” my dad told a man with a really tall green hat.
“I like yours too!” the man replied.
“But yours is better,” my dad said. He then explained how we were passing out “The History of St Patrick” at the parade and offered him one of our tracts. The man wanted one, just like almost everyone else does. Many are curious about who St Patrick actually was.

IMG_4592
Cheryl had a good talk with this guy. She shared the gospel with him and recommended a good church in his neighborhood. I was surprised to run into him on a different street corner about twenty minutes later and was able to continue the conversation!

IMG_4602

“I can’t adopt a dog, unfortunatley,” I told this lady after taking this picture.
“But we adopted a son!” my dad added.
“A what?” she asked.
“A son!” my dad said. “From Korea.”
“And that’s how we ALL get into GOD’S family…” he said and continued to share how that can happen to any of us.

My dad especially enjoys going up to small groups of high school guys and asking them “Have you gotten one of these? It’s a history of St. Patrick. Do you know anything about Patrick? Why does Ireland remember him 1600 years later?”

He then tells the story, sharing something like this: “Patrick convinced many in Ireland that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. They worshiped the sun and Patrick told them, ‘If you worship the sun you will die, but if you worship the Son of God you will live, because the Son of God rose from the dead and is alive. You will live forever because the Son of God lives forever.’ So many Irish believed that it influenced the whole nation. They abandoned sun worship and turned to the God who created them!”

My dad then shares how people today remember Patrick, but know nothing of Christ. And only Christ can save us!

When talking with small groups of youth at the parade we find that some are politely disinterested, some are embarrassed, but some have that interest in their eyes.

Our team came back together after the parade and shared about the conversations we had. Several reported how they saw a sincere interest in the gospel in those they spoke with. Praise God!

IMG_4589
My mom sat down next to this lady on the picnic bench and they ended up having a good conversation through most of the parade. This lady was a single mom and shared a lot with my mom about things going on in her life.

IMG_4610
We think this was supposed to be Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster). Haha.

IMG_4603 Little Naomi is growing in her ability to pass out tracts! We are proud of her!

We had a big scare part way through the parade. Little David (8), Naomi’s brother, was missing. He had been doing a wonderful job passing out tracts (had distributed about 400!) but then David got separated from those with him. All of a sudden, our “witnessing team” became a “search and rescue team.”

After about a half hour, as I was scanning the crowds, a lady approached me asking urgently, “Are you looking for a lost child?”
“Yes,” I replied, wondering how she knew.
“He’s in the police car,” she said, pointing.

Someone had taken him to the parade judges, who took him to the police, and apparently the police man had told David to watch for someone he knew.

Poor David was quite shaken emotionally!

We are grateful for the kindness, security, and protection we were given from the police and parade officials. David said his favorite part of the day was “getting found.”

In the same way, may we have great urgency and concern to search for those who are “lost” spiritually, and find great joy in the fact that our Shepherd has found each one of us who has put our trust in Him and brought us to Himself, our secure Refuge!

After everything was over, we set out, tired and hungry, for Chic fil A! =P

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Thoughts of St Patrick

20140808_041430_28830

Christ be beside me; Christ be before me;
Christ be behind me, King of my heart.
Christ be within me; Christ be below me;
Christ be above me, never to part.

Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand,
Christ all around me, shield in the strife.
Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting,
Christ in my rising, Light of my life.

Christ be in all hearts thinking about me;
Christ be on all tongues telling of me.
Christ be the vision in eyes that see me;
in ears that hear me Christ ever be.

This beautiful song, “Christ Be Beside Me,” was taken from some writings attributed to St Patrick.

Praise God that He took hold of a rebellious young man 1,600 years ago and used him to make such an impact that the world still celebrates him today–though they don’t know why.

Although we don’t have a lot of information from Patrick’s life, we have two letters that he wrote. They sound a lot like Paul.

As the world remembers Patrick, may our thoughts be consumed with Christ–as Patrick’s thoughts were.

“ … the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.” – St. Patrick, missionary to Ireland

Just Repent at the End of Your Life?

IMG_3934

On my recent flight to the East Coast, I needed to review some notes. But the guy seated next to me was very chatty. He explained, “Normally, I have my ipod and listen to my music [on airplanes] but about a month ago I wiped all my music off.”

Hm, I see God’s hand in that [smile] I thought.

I put my notes back in their folder, and figured the Lord had arranged this encounter with this man (who I’ll call Tim). I heard about everything from the difference between working with sugar and coal in farming equipment, to the details around his father’s death, to the time in Louisiana when a giant cockroach crawled up his shirt while he was on a platform in a grain elevator.

“So why again are you going to New Jersey?” Tim asked me after a while.

I explained about the Bright Lights ministry, and the main messages we try to emphasize when working with youth.

“What church do you go to?” he asked.

After explaining a bit about our church, I returned the question and asked about his spiritual background.

Tim didn’t have a good experience with “religion” growing up. He exclaimed, “I don’t like organized religion.”

“Oh I totally agree with you,” I said. “There’s a lot of greed and desire for power, and many who are not even real followers of Jesus …”

He agreed.

After I mentioned the concept of a relationship with God by faith in what Jesus has done for us, Tim said, “I don’t agree with people who say that you can be a rotten person your whole life and then repent right at the end and get to Heaven. That’s just not right,” he said.

“Well, what we need to understand is how God sees it—because He’s the One who decides who gets into Heaven and who doesn’t, right?” I asked.

Tim agreed.

“So, the question is, does God decide on the basis of what we do or on the basis of what we are trusting in?” I asked.

Tim waited for an explanation.

“Because if God decides on the basis of what we do,” I said, “We’ll never know if we’ve done enough. I mean, what if someone just needed to do five more good deeds and they would have squeaked by—but because they didn’t, they can’t go to Heaven now …”

“Exactly!” Tim exclaimed.

“But if God decides on the basis of what we are trusting in—in the fact that Jesus died a substitutionary death in our place—then it’s already taken of! It’s done, and we can know we are going to Heaven.”

Not only was this the start of deeper gospel discussion with Tim, but I was also able to recount this conversation to the lady next to me on a following flight. It provided a helpful way for me to share the gospel with her also – praise the Lord.

So if someone asks you that question (“How could a really bad person just repent at the end of their life and ‘get in?’ to Heaven?”) remember a couple things:

1) They are asking the wrong question, because the question itself assumes that some are “good people” when in reality there are none truly good (“As it is written, There is none righteous, not even one” Romans 3:10)

2) A better question to ask would be “how can ANYONE ‘get in'” !!!

Praise the Lord that He, “being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

*Thanks to Michael from New Jersey for his helpful thoughts on this =)