Living In the Faith: Christianity – In Practice

A few may have approached this session with a little trepidation.  With the fortifying and abounding already set forth, some may have expected this practical example to include instructions for standing on a milk crate and operating a bull horn.  After faithfully attending the previous sessions and studying the materials, you will be happy to know that you can relax now. We’re taking the day off to go fishing.  The instructions that follow are intended to help you with what new fishermen need most: baiting and casting the lines. This applies to more than just the novice.  Even seasoned fishermen continue to look for new ways to tie an enticing lure.

First, a word of caution: understand our trajectory.  It is a simple observation to make that our culture is highly resistant to anything godly.  Many have responded to the challenge by seeking inroads with vehicles of relevancy into the court of the unsaved.  They have designed friendly products tailored after the amusements that the world already offers to get attention and gain acceptance.  They compete on the world’s terms, and so have mostly created worldly and ineffective amusements.  We’ll not follow that failure here.  The delivery vehicle is licensed to negotiate today’s highways, but the content is the high-octane, one hundred percent Word of God.

In order to get the most millage from our example, we are going to entertain an environment where it is difficult to share the gospel.  While that describes most places today, we will add some obstacles and constraints to force our ingenuity.  This is not the method for every tough situation.  Fishing holes very as do lakes and streams.  Many may be able to use this exact method, and others will see it as a primer for their own ingenuity.

The assigned fishing spot is a public high school campus with significant challenges.

The student body is fifty percent foreign born, and there are some culture issues.  Less than twenty-five percent are from two parent homes, and many are being raised by other relatives, or are in group homes. The parents divorced, deserted, or are in prison. The areas they live in are gang infested.  There is violence, drug abuse, and alcoholism.

Tens of girls on campus are pregnant with their second child, and most are not married.  School fights are common, and bloody.  There are anywhere from thirty to sixty students on parole at one time who must check in at the campus parole office regularly.  Many of these offenders committed violent crimes.  There are gangsters on campus who force girls into prostitution and manage their schedules.

There is a large heavy metal following dressed in black with satanic symbols on their clothes and backpacks.  The school psychologists have caseloads that include ones who have been observed drawing scenes of mass murder and carnage.  Many of the students are on suicide watch.

Alcohol poisoning is competing with all other reasons given for students to go to the nurse’s office.  Drug use on campus is so rampant that a walk through a hall way can often leave one’s clothes so permeated with the smell of marijuana that upon returning home the scent aggravates the person’s dog.

Staff members have been assaulted and targeted for assassination, and guns have been confiscated.  There are two resident police officers and the number fluctuates to as high as eight or more depending on threat levels.

Our assignment: is to send students to the library to read and write down Bible verses.  It must be done legally, voluntarily, and despite the fact the school librarian may have thrown the Bible in the trash.

First, they will need to be sent to a different library.  Here is where we include the desire to at least start the assignment.  There just so happens to be a fast food restaurant chain in the western United States that is very popular among teenagers.  It consistently makes about the best cheeseburger on the planet.  One of the founding family members became a Christian, and praised God for their success by printing Bible verse references on the bottoms of their food wrappers and beverage cups.

We now have our new library.

Let’s remember that teenagers have veracious appetites, and the disadvantaged don’t eat as much good food as they should.  Fortunately, our library sells gift cards, and for a small sum they can be purchased in an amount equal to the price of a popular combo meal.

Next, the instructions for completing the assignment must be well thought out.

We will design our assignment with two parts, really two assignments, for reasons that will become clear as we go.  For the part one; the student is instructed to go to the restaurant and eat, and a disclaimer is included that tells the student they may stop there, and that nothing else is required.

For part two; the instructions go like this: 1) Save the wrapper from the cheese burger (or save the cup from a drink), 2) At the bottom there is a secret code of a few letters and numbers together, 3) type them into and search, 4) You will find a sentence of words, 5) Write down the sentence, 6) Give it to me (during: passing period, nutrition, lunch).  If you follow these instructions in Part Two, I will send you back for another cheese burger.

The instructions are typed, cut to fit the size of the gift card, and taped inside the cardboard wrapper of the gift card.  The amount of the gift is also written inside.

This assignment is designed to appeal to teenagers’ desire to solve mysteries and uncover secrets, and fits our technological lifestyle.  Even if they don’t own a computer, their friends have cell phones with internet access, and the school libraries have computers.

Even for those who only get to search the verse and read it, and either decide for the time not to proceed, or get distracted, the mission is accomplished.  For those who do the second part there is a tendency for them to read the verse to you to prove their accomplishment.

Here is why our assignment is designed the way it is.

The courts have ruled that students may share their faith at school so long as it is not during instructional time, and for that reason you have protected them by stipulating they deliver the verses during non-instructional time.  You don’t want them getting into trouble for witnessing to you.  No doubt, you have noticed a turn around.  You are preaching the gospel, and yet you are the one being proselytized!  This protects you.  Of course, you have an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding they may have regarding a verse.

Because part one is a free gift, with no obligation, and part two is voluntary, the most you could reasonably be faulted for is feeding hungry teens and offering an activity designed to keep them out of trouble for a while.

This brings us to when to give the assignments. It is best to give them on Fridays, and especially before a three day-weekend.  If you ask these teens what their plans are for the weekend, most will confess to either going to a party, or hoping to find a party, and no plans beyond that goal.  That is two days and nights for trouble to find unsupervised or minimally supervised teens in bad environments.  Having a little project like this one may be something that gets them out of the wrong place at the right time.  I have it on good authority that this sort of project can be very successful.

A project like this would be helped with a protocol to follow.

First and foremost, pray over every person before giving the card out.  The Lord may redirect you.  Second, only give a card to someone you have established a relationship with.  This is so they can know you’re legit (a relationship can be established in thirty seconds).  Thirdly, verify literacy level meets the requirements (you might not have your glasses handy and require a short note be read to you). Fourthly, give the card with the explanation that it’s a weekend, and they are going to need a plan, and something to eat.

The very exciting thing about a project like this is that it can place so many lines in the water.  You never know when, or which one, is going to hit.  And remember from our study, someone else may be the one who gets to pull that line out with a soul on it.

We conclude our conference series with a few words of caution and advice.  We should have an aching heart for the lost, but we must also be discerning.  Our admonishment from scripture is to be both gentle, and wise (Mat 10:16).  You are being sent forth in the midst of wolves (Mat 10:16), and unfortunately it’s been my experience to find that many are in sheep’s clothing.  We are to know no man by the flesh, but we are to try the spirits to see if they are of God (2Cor 5:16; 1Jn 4:1).

We are to be acutely aware of the battle ground. Remember, the first to show up on the scene in the parable of the Sower were the fowls of the air (Luk 8:5).  These birds represent the emissaries of Satan, and we should expect them to be devouring after us. (Luk 8:12).  We need to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.  Study God’s armor for the Christian found in Ephesians chapter six.  Each piece is extremely important, but many a battle has been lost due to lack of good intelligence.   This is why in summing our armor Paul stressed the importance of praying always in the Spirit and remaining attentive for receiving guidance (Eph 6:18).

Finally, we will close out our conference series Living In The Faith with these words:

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mat 4:18-19)

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