You are Such a Good Listener

You are such a good listener

My daughter surprised me last week. “You are such a god listener!” she exclaimed.” Yes, a surprise. If she had said, “You never listen,” I may not have been so surprised.

Her accolade, of course, made me happy and want to become a better listener. I was all ears.

Our daughter continued, “People are troubled these days. They need someone to talk to.” Our daughter is sensitive and aware of people and their feelings. She suggested I give a “gift of presence” to people in the community by announcing that I will be available to listen to anyone who comes to the church sanctuary or calls during certain hours. (From my perspective, I’m already available. But then, not everybody knows this.)

So I kept listening. Our daughter explained her rational to me and to her brother Ethan, who serves as associate pastor in our church:

“I think this addresses a) that you’re offering a listening ear, which I think is what will most speak to people, and b) that you’re not offering answers, just your presence. These two things, presence and listening, are two of the most humanity-restoring things we can offer, and what you both are so good at giving to me.”

Here’s the blurb she wrote as we announced this to the world:

We’re here to listen, if you’d like to talk. In these uncertain times, we’re all under a tremendous amount of stress. You’re handling it very well! We’d like to come alongside you and listen to what’s on your heart. We don’t have all the answers, but we can offer a listening ear, and just be there with you for a moment in your day.

If you’d like to talk with Pastor Mark, he’ll be standing by his phone on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the month of May. Here’s his number: 563-554-1401.

Do you think anyone would call?

Yes! A fellow named L called and talked almost 40 minutes, He asked for prayer for someone close to him and even sent a picture.

Later, I got to thinking, “Am I a good listener?”

I remembered a Pastor S who came earlier into my office and poured out his heart for nearly an hour.

I remembered R who sometimes calls or comes two or more times a week. He says he doesn’t have anyone else to talk to.

I thought of a woman with severe cancer who needs to talk and ask questions. She wants me to be her “cancer coach.”

Why Listen?

One time, years ago, I was planning to resign. An elder, Tom said, “Not now!” I’m so glad I listened.

Joab, an Israeli military general in the Bible, won an important battle because he listened to a wise woman (2 Samuel 20:17f).

Love listens. When we love people, we listen to them.

Many people are lonely and feel isolated. Nearly everyone wants someone to listen to them with empathy.

Part of the ordination ritual for priests in the Old Testament included sprinkling blood on the ear. It was called a “filling” or consecration and equipped the priest for service (Leviticus 8:22f). If we want to serve people, we need to hear them.

God has given us two ears and one mouth. This ought to be a clue about God’s will for our lives!

Two Caveats for Great Listeners

One, our chief concern is that folks learn to pour out their hearts into the “ears” of the Almighty. He’s the One Who cares the most. He’s the One Who gives results.

We always want to direct people to God. Yet, sometimes people just need to talk with someone with flesh and blood.

Second, a good listener need not listen to gossip and evil. Sometimes we need to cut people off or redirect a conversation.

Who is the Best Listener?

No doubt–God Himself! Give ear to my prayer, O God; And do not hide Yourself from my supplication (Psalm 55:1). The book of Psalms could be summarised as one great plea for God to listen.

So again, we want to direct people to God, to pour out their hearts to Him. And if we love people, we will listen to them.

Are you a good listener?

Darwin’s Road to Salvation Testimony

Heaven opened for Darwin as he drove to Muscatine, Iowa for the first time in 2000. Now, in 2020, he retells how Jesus organized a series of events that led to his salvation.

Who Are the Greatest Heroes?

Let’s give credit where credit is due. Great heroes abound in his time of crisis. Nursing home workers, nurses, policemen, firemen, first responders, doctors, lab workers, clergymen, and many others deserve recognition. All of these are sacrificing and laying their lives on the line to save others.

All of these are receiving well deserved accolades for saving lives. In addition, there are men, women and young people saving lives for all eternity. Let’s recognize them. Those who save lives during the current crisis deserve great credit. And those who save lives for all eternity join a cadre of unsung heroes that deserves even greater honor.

This website exists to recognize and encourage soul-winners. They are the greatest heroes.

Angie Fredrickson is a real heroine. She sent this reply in the comment box of this website a while back, months before the quarantine. Here is Angie’s story.

I led someone to Chris

We were on a flight from PDX [Portland International Airport] to Santa Barbara. It was my husband, me and another lady sitting together.

I struck up a conversation with the lady, asking the Lord [at the same time] if I should share with her. He gave me the go-ahead.

The problem was we were landing, so I had to be precise. As we sat on the landing strip, stopped and not moving, I prayed with her as she received the Lord.

Then the plane went into the place of disembarkation. I asked my husband if the pilot told us why we were sitting on the landing strip. Even though my husband was in prayer as I shared, he said neither the pilot nor flight attendant said anything.

As we went into this very small airport terminal our son-in-law asked “Why were you sitting out there on the strip so long?” I told him it was so I could lead this nice lady to the Lord!”

Photo of “greatest hero Superman” by King Lip on Unsplash

Is “One Minute Witness” for You?

I recently found http://www.oasisworldministries.org/one-minute-witness/ and their exciting ministry. They have a worldwide vision and are effective in personal evangelism and church planting.

Here’s a testimony from George Bunnell, Jr (one of the guys using the one minute witness).

Yesterday I had the opportunity to share with a gentleman who was 93 years old. I walked into Panera in Elk River Minnesota when I noticed a elderly gentleman sitting by himself.

I sparked up a conversation and found out he was 93 years young!:) He shared with me some great things that happened in his life. He then allowed me to share with him the Greatest thing that had ever happened in my life.

I asked him how he thought a person would be able to heaven. He thought being an honest person would get you into you! He also said if you keep the commandments that would qualify you into heaven! This elderly man was so eager to let me share with him what the bible says about qualifying to get to heaven.

I thought as he got into his daughter’s car, “I am possibly the last chance for this man of making a decision to follow Christ.”

I pray he bows his knee to Jesus!

George Bunnell, Jr. is President of Jude 23 Ministries in Minnesota. He is  one of the many groups using the materials from Oasis.

There’s a lot more on the Oasis website available here: http://www.oasisworldministries.org/one-minute-witness/ 

I include the info because we want to develop a culture of faith-sharing. We all want to be better witnesses for Jesus. 

One feature of the Oasis plan is how to get the conversation started. Check it out at the link above.

Photo of birds in question mark formation by Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash.

Cathe and Ron Taylor Tell Remarkable Story

Publisher’s note: After publishing the video of Rani sharing how she led a janitor to eternal salvation through Christ Jesus, the Taylors sent this remarkable story to my email. I reprint it here in their own words.

I met a young man at work who asked me every day why I read my Bible in my break&why was  reason to live. I prayed for a good answer everyday.

His car wouldn’t start I offered a ride. We got in car & he started to weep & was depressed & say was going to kill self by the car exhaust. His brother later shot himself in car. I told him God was Love peace beyond understanding and Joy as angels said at Jesus birth.God sent son Jesus Christ as savior Jesus because They Loved the World so much!

Today is the Day of Salvation! You live life one hour one day at a time. They forgive our sins when we confess to be forgiven & believing God is true God and Jesus Christ the son of God who went to cross for healing forgiveness of our Savior who gives us new life & freedom to be set free& His child.

My Friend say I want that! I say ok tell Him ask Him . He say weeping: “Yo God! I need a new life forgiven I confess my sins, believing of God & all she say I receive the gifts of Salvation forgiveness & Gods Love peaceful Great Joy as angels sang to shepherds at Jesus birth. I’m your sheep and your my Shepherd! I love your love & a new family friends helping get through terrible things and past. In Jesus Name Amen.

His life changed amazingly he went from depression & death drinking cussing swearing smoking.To wittinessing helping others & much health challenges and pain poverty to a joyful Christian good job giving to others & going to church to sing rejoicing testimonies of Blessings & Gods great Love Grace Mercy Forgiveness life changer & wonderful Peaceful in middle of tests & struggles but Victory not victims!

He’s now in Heaven & many were led to God & helped by him & remembered &glad he was alive! We are too we added him to our family & rejoice he’s in heaven not hell & that we enjoyed him & was @ his wedding & the last day of his life he was praying praising God for healing him by going to Heaven!

His name is Michael, he would say like the Angels name 

Publisher’s end note: We want to create a culture in our churches of people sharing “God conversations” with unchurched friends or strangers.

Here is my email reply to Cathe and Ron Taylor:

Hi Cathe and Ron Taylor,
What a great report. God is using you! Thanks for sending. I will add you to my email list unless you are already on it.

Also, if you have a picture of your friend Michael, please send it to my email. Also if you have a picture of one or both of you, please send it to my email. Your story will encourage other people. 

God bless you and thanks for writing.
Sincerely,
 
Mark, author of

Apostles and Churches What church leaders need to know about apostles

Answer for Cancer: 9 Keys How God healed me of stage 4 inoperable cancer and how He can do the same for you

Men Hear Good News of Jesus

Bailey from Muddy Waters Masonry Heard Gospel
Bailey from Muddy Waters Masonry Heard Gospel

Bailey the Masonry Man

Bailey heard the good news of Jesus at our farm. He owns and operates Muddy Waters Masonry located in Andalusia, Illinois. When some of the masonry on the front of our house needed repair, we contracted with Bailey to fix the wall.

It turns out Muddy Waters was a great choice. Bailey did a great job quickly and at a good price.

We had a couple of opportunities to convesrse during the project.

“Have you ever given your life to Jesus Christ?” I asked. That question turns out to be a wonderful door-opener for ongoing conversation. Try it. I’ve asked that question, or one like it, probably hundreds of people. About 9 out of every 10 answer either yes or no and the conversation about God opens.

People love to talk about their faith if they have one. And even if they don’t, they like to talk about the faith they don’t have!

Since Bailey and I both grew up as Lutherans, we have a lot in common. I told him what Christ had done for me. and shared the good news: Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. He offers a free gift to all who believe.

Bailey opened up about his faith. He believes in God and Jesus, but doesn’t want to go to church. “I work hard, and Sunday is the only day I have for myself.”

We made a good start together. Bailey is not on my mailing list, but I wish he could see 5 Reasons to Join a Local Church.

This Phone Man Heard the Gospel

He Heard Good News of Jesus Christ
He Heard Good News of Jesus Christ

I love to share the gospel. It’s exhilarating. Here’s another great guy. He stopped by the house for installation of internet service. You can tell from his smile his response to questions about personal faith in Jesus Christ.

This man is also a Lute. He readily shared his faith and how God is helping him and his family.

As believers in Christ, we have the awesome opportunity to share faith and encourage people.

I find that men in particular need encouragement from other men. Let’s build traffic for the Kingdom of God! One way is simply by sharing our faith. Start by asking questions.

I’m the Way to God’s Kingdom by Benjamin Primas

(February, 2019)
 
Praise Lord!
 
I’m the way to God’s kingdom.
 
God loves all of Us.
 
Mark, would You send me one of Yours
 
Bibles? The one You gave Me got lost.
 
I’d share and split it’s teachings.
 
Those days I’m teaching just by
 
memories which is powerful in core
 
subjects but I’m missing the clear
 
definitions I use to repeat.
 
If You could take a picture of first 10
 
pages and send them by email it would
 
take effect on crowd of people. I dont
 
need whole book.
 
God bless You and cheer Your
 
community! I think about them often.
 
Them gave me model of peaceful and
 
lovely society.
 
Remind them the story about clearing in front of own house they can do a lot more if they would not get stuck on the casual struggles. 🙂
 
Cherish God’s kingdom, it’s like a garden.
 
Benjamin with the everlasting Love
 

Another letter from Benjamin Primas

March 23, 2019

Helo Mark,

The second Bible arrived yesterday. Thank you so much.

I already gave speach from the first one. It’s also very nice I can feel shared faith with you evertime I read from it.

I,m daily teaching many people of Prague to rasie their faith as a flag and share courage and hope with the others.

The life here is going better and better. It is working our.

Blessings to Your family and church!

With love in Christ,

Benjamin (Samson) Primas

Publisher’s note: Learn more about Benjamin’s conversion story here.

Kind Act Leads to Christ

Kind Act Leads to Christ

It all started in an Iowa storm. Matthew and Courtney Anderson were driving by one of those ubiquitous Fourth of July firecracker tents. A sudden squall violently lifted the firecracker tent off the ground. The vendors were seemingly helpless and began cutting the tent’s holding cords.

Matt and Courtney bounded out of their vehicle and pitched in to help. Together with the vendors they salvaged what the wind and rainstorm did not destroy.

The storm passed, but left the vendors homeless with rain damaged merchandise. (Tents cannot be locked so the sellers sleep in the tents for security.)

Now what were Josh, Debra and Ariana to do? Realizing their plight, Matt and Courtney paid for a night at the nearby Super 8 Motel.

I don’t know what all was shared that Saturday evening. What I do know is the firecracker vendors walked in during the middle of the church meeting Sunday morning. They were welcomed and one of the men said, “You are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

After the meeting, church people sat with Josh and Debra as they wept profusely. Josh used up the first box of Kleenexes and began to use the second.

Eventually, one of the men proffered the question, “Have you ever given your life to Jesus Christ?” Through tears, Josh answered negatively. “I don’t believe in Christ,” he admitted.

Much conversation ensued. Josh heard the good news: “Jesus Christ died for your sins. He rose from the dead.” Josh heard the good news several times. Something began to dawn on him. Finally, as best he could, he submitted his will to Christ as Savior.

After prompting, Josh began to pray. I advised him about Jesus’ words in John 10: 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I asked him to ask God what to do next and to listen for the whisper of the Spirit. After bowing his head and praying, he said, “I think God is telling me to move back to Oregon where I have roots and family. “

Dinner at HyVee Restaurant followed. During lunch, his daughter, Ariana, showed interest in Jesus. She asked questions. “What does it mean to ‘open the door’ to Jesus?”

She “opened the door to Jesus.” That’s when the above picture was snapped as Josh and Debra affectionately hugged her. Who knew

The Church of the Living Water provided two nights of lodging at the Super 8 Motel. Meals were offered.

Amazing what God’s love–one act of kindness–will do. God bless Josh, Debra and Ariana. God bless Matthew and Courtney.

One reason this website exists is to honor those who lead men, women and young people to Christ. We encourage Chicken Evangelism–Share Christ before you Chicken Out!

When you tell your experience of witnessing, it will encourage others. Do you know of an incident where a kind act leads to Christ?

Salvation by Annoyance–

 

Salvation by Annoyance–

An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, “How do you expect to get into Heaven?”

The boy thought it over and said, “Well, I’ll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, ‘For Heaven’s sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!'”

 

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Difference Between Evangelists and Apostles?

What is the Difference Between an Evangelist and an Apostle?

Steve Fatow offers a clear distinction. Learn about chicken evangelism here.

Learn more about modern day apostles here.

Steve Fatow: How Does an Apostle Differ from an Evangelist?
Steve Fatow: How Does an Apostle Differ from an Evangelist?