Planting Seeds and Reaping a Harvest

by Lynn on July 23, 2014

Planting-Harvest Being a forensic scientist, I admittedly don’t watch television series that depict my profession. Now I understand that in these shows, criminalistics is dramatized to be entertaining in a story line that can be completed in an hour. I also know that the public doesn’t realize that DNA analysis can’t be completed on a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, or that acid fumes are not the common cause of meth lab explosions. But seeing a criminalist skilled enough to do the work in one hour of television, it takes ten people months to do in real life, makes me a little crazy. As a former colleague of mine, now producer of a popular forensic drama said, “This is television-if you want real life, watch a documentary.” And that is the point—television is not real life. No one person can do ten peoples’ jobs. Each has a skill set that complements the others. Patrol officers respond to and secure the crime scene. Detectives do the investigative leg work, take people into custody and interrogate suspects. Crime Lab responders document and collect evidence. Criminalists evaluate and examine evidence and report findings. The District Attorney’s Office coordinates prosecution once charges are filed. My point is the criminalist, as talented as they may be, cannot do everyone’s job. They can only do their own job.

Likewise, in following the Great Commission, each Christian is called to do what God has given them talent, initiative, resources and opportunity to do.

When I was very young, my parents took our family to hear Billy Graham speak. He was holding a crusade at the old Balboa Stadium in San Diego. I was only 1 ½ years old back then in 1964, so any memories I might have of being there are probably more from watching later crusades on television. Nonetheless, anyone who’s seen this event knows that the hallmark of any Billy Graham crusade is the stream of people who make their way to the center field and give their lives to Christ.

Evangelistic outreach started right after the birth of the Church and continues today. For example, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association still sponsors these events, even though Billy Graham himself has retired. In California, Harvest Christian Fellowship sponsors annual crusades in Anaheim and other large cities. And in recent years, technology has allowed on-line audiences to exceed stadium audiences at these events. According to their web site, Harvest Ministries has reached a staggering number of people.

Since 1990, Harvest Crusades has put on large-scale evangelistic outreaches around the United States and in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. More than 5,006,000 people have attended a Harvest Crusade event in person, and more than 421,800 people have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

Billy Graham, whose ministry began in 1950, has preached to an estimated 215,000,000 people, and has led countless millions of those to Christ. And these are just two such ministries—there are many others with similar missions.

But such a public display of response to the Gospel message may leave some of us feeling that our own efforts fall short in comparison. Although we’ve shared the Good News, we’ve never been the one to “bring someone over the finish line” so to speak. To be honest, I haven’t personally led anyone to Christ by praying the sinner’s prayer with them. And knowing my propensity for weepiness at such a moment, I doubt I could do it without blubbering like an idiot. However, a few years ago an old friend approached me at our high school reunion, telling me that he’d been waiting years to share his amazing conversion testimony with me. After years of drug and alcohol abuse, he’d hit rock bottom. When he cried out to God that no one cared about him, the Holy Spirit said that I had been praying for him, mentioning me by name. He repented of his sins, and surrendered his life to Christ. I was grateful to hear the story, and humbled that God allowed me a “behind the scenes” look at my prayer life, showing me that my prayers do matter to him. It is always encouraging to see evidence of God using us for his glory. We share this story and many others in our book, Held by God, just for that purpose.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, he explained that God is the master builder of the Church. We are all given different jobs to do to assist in that endeavor, but it is the Holy Spirit who brings people to a place of repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, NIV

Public speaking is not a talent that I possess, which is why court testimony is the worst part of my job. I’m one of those people who get nervous when a meeting leader insists that we go around the room and introduce ourselves. If God had wanted me to be a public speaker, he’d have made sure my mind didn’t go blank when a room full of people all turned simultaneously to listen to what I had to say. However, my job does provide me with a decent income which has enabled me to purchase START Bibles that are given out to new believers at Harvest Crusades. I’ve also had the privilege of partnering with the radio ministry of Thru the Bible which broadcasts the sermons of Dr. J. Vernon McGee worldwide. I have volunteered in the kitchen during women’s events at my church, and have shared my testimony in the book I co-authored with my sister. God has not given me an outgoing personality or the gift of voice projection, but he has given me a heart for service and the blessings of a good income that can be used for his glory.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:27-28, NIV

Yes, not all of us are called to reap the harvest like Billy Graham or Greg Laurie. Some of us are called to be seed planters, while others water and cultivate the sprouting seeds. This means that while the Holy Spirit may use the well-recognized harvesters to bring people into the Kingdom, it is only after he’s used the efforts of countless others to help prepare the people for that time of conversion. All of our roles are important in his work, not just the high-profile ones. In a conversation with his disciples, Jesus confirms this.

Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:35-38, NIV

God’s word never returns void, so each time we share the Gospel with another, we are planting a seed. When we contribute our time, talent, and resources to faithful ministries, we water the seed. And when we pray over the people in whose lives the seeds of the Gospel have been planted, we cultivate the sprouting seeds. God may give us an opportunity to teach Sunday school, volunteer at a Rescue Mission, or assist with a prison ministry. He may open doors for us to go on a missions trip, coordinate Vacation Bible School, help usher, drive people to a crusade, or help build a new church for a community in Haiti. Some of us may be given a passion to teach Bible study, or become a prayer warrior who bathes every new encounter in heavenly petitions. Whatever the task he calls us to, he will give us the strength, the wisdom, and the resources to be salt and light in this dark world.

The grain cannot be harvested without the faithful planting, watering, and cultivation of the seed. God uses all of us to bring in the harvest.

On the journey toward Home,

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Peace in the Midst of Grief

by Lynn on June 30, 2014

PeaceToday I attended the memorial service for one of my colleagues who passed away unexpectedly. The occasion held all of the standard ritual that accompanies a police service. To the sound of bagpipes, a sea of saluting deputies and officers bid farewell to one of their own. Death is always tragic, but even more so when it happens suddenly, and grief is thrust upon us without warning.

While people deal with grief in different ways, I’ve noticed that some are completely devastated by their pain, while others have a certain peace despite their suffering. In the weeks following my mom’s death, we’d visit the cemetery fairly often. On several occasions we’d meet a woman whose son was buried nearby. He was just a teenager who’d recently died in a car accident. The depth of the woman’s grief was evident as she spent hours sitting in the cemetery. She was clearly not eating, and every time we saw her she looked worse. Her son’s gravesite had become a shrine to his memory and for many months, sitting on his small plot of lawn was her whole life.

So why do some fall apart under the crushing pain of grief while others endure? I think it comes back to one word: hope.

In 1873, a man by the name of Horatio Spafford was trying to rally after two devastating events. Three years earlier, he and his wife had lost their only son to Scarlet Fever. Shortly thereafter, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed properties he owned, which ruined him financially. Despite this the family was scheduled to travel to Europe. Mr. Spafford had to remain behind to attend to some business matters, but he assured his wife and daughters that he would accompany them as soon as possible. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship collided with another ship. Several passengers drowned including Mr. Spafford’s four daughters. His wife sent a telegram back to America with the words “Saved alone.” As he traveled to meet his wife, the ship passed over the area where his four daughters perished. In his grief, Horatio Spafford penned the following words.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait, The sky, not the grave, is our goal; Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord! Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio Spafford was sustained in his grief because he knew he would be reunited with his children one day. He could write these lyrics because despite his grieving heart, he understood his sins to be nailed to the cross of Christ, and therefore looked forward to the day when Jesus would return to the earth and take him home to heaven. This hope is what gives us peace in the midst of grief.

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalms 30:5b, KJV

The struggle may be difficult and the pain may be devastating; but because I have Jesus, it is well with my soul.

On the journey toward Home,

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Honoring Those Who Defend our Freedom

by Lynn on May 26, 2014

Memorial DayPresident Ronald Reagan was a strong supporter of our military, and he keenly understood the price of freedom provided by the men and women who serve. In honor of Memorial Day, I have included a few poignant excerpts from the President’s address at Arlington National Cemetery in 1982.

I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.

Yet, we must try to honor them — not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.
The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery. One gets that feeling here on this hallowed ground, and I have known that same poignant feeling as I looked out across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Europe, in the Philippines, and the military cemeteries here in our own land. Each one marks the resting place of an American hero and, in my lifetime, the heroes of World War I, the Doughboys, the GI’s of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. They span several generations of young Americans, all different and yet all alike, like the markers above their resting places, all alike in a truly meaningful way.

As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. And let us also pledge to do our utmost to carry out what must have been their wish: that no other generation of young men will every have to share their experiences and repeat their sacrifice. (Excerpts from “Remarks at Memorial Day Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982”)

I am thankful for those Americans willing to defend our great nation. May God bless them and keep them safe.

On the journey toward Home,

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Jesus Paid it All

by Lynn on April 20, 2014

Jesus-Paid-it-AllA few weeks ago, we sang this old familiar hymn at church. On this Easter, the words are especially poignant.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Jesus Paid it All, words by Elvina M. Hall, 1865, Music by John T. Grape

Jesus-Paid-it-All-2Our separation from God need not be a permanent condition. After sin and death entered our world through our own disobedience, God’s plan for our redemption was set into motion. In Genesis 3, God promises the “he” who would defeat death and bring us back into communion with God. This however would not come without a great cost, and it would be God himself who would bear the expense. Jesus came to pay a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. When we put our faith in Christ, he covers us with his own righteousness so that we can stand before the throne of God as if we’d never sinned. Our slate is wiped clean, and our death sentence is rescinded. And that is worth celebrating this Easter!

On the journey toward Home,

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The Body of Christ – Connected Together Through Worship

April 9, 2014
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At my church we’ve been studying the book of Ephesians, and our pastor has been speaking about unity within the body of Christ. So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up […]

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DIY Custom Bird Nest Easter Baskets

March 23, 2014
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A few months back I featured my bird nest teacups in a Do-It-Yourself craft post. Well today, we’re going to cover a spin-off from that project. In just a few steps, I’ll show you how to use the same theme to create wonderfully custom Easter baskets! First, you’ll need a basket. I like to start […]

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GOD’S NOT DEAD – The Movie opens this Week

March 18, 2014
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GOD’S NOT DEAD is a new Christian film that opens this weekend, and judging from the trailer, it looks like it may be a very good one. The story centers on a college freshman who is challenged by his professor to deny his faith or to defend it. The film features Kevin Sorbo and Shane […]

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The Empress Hotel Signature Scone Recipe

March 9, 2014
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Clad in ivy and surrounded by beautiful manicured gardens, the Fairmont Empress Hotel is a favorite destination of travelers to Victoria on Vancouver Island. This historic grand lady has been welcoming guests since 1908. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stayed at the Empress in 1939, during their Royal Tour of Canada. More recently, HRH […]

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Free Printable Vintage Valentine Images and DIY Projects

February 9, 2014
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Since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I thought I’d share some lovely vintage Valentine DIY ideas! On these web sites and blogs, you can download free printable graphics to design and construct your own Valentine greetings. Several of these sites have a treasure trove of beautiful vintage images scanned from old books, cards and postcards. […]

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Touring the USS Iowa

January 19, 2014
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Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of touring the USS Iowa berthed in San Pedro, CA. Built in 1940 at the Navy Yard in New York, the battleship served in World War II, the Korean War and also through the Cold War. The Iowa was launched in August of 1942, and commissioned in February […]

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