Monday, March 16, 2009

Sorry, this is a long one...

But, what else is new?

Okay. Many people have asked me about what happened with Calvary Kids Care, and I just want to clarify: I have no ill will towards anyone at CKC, including my (now former) boss. This was, by far, the kindest termination I have ever faced, and, as much as I disagreed with the decision, I can't help but see God's hand in it all. Truthfully, I probably should have quit, but I never like to back out of something I believe in, even when my contribution is shaky. I always think that I can get better and that I can overcome anything, but I think the Lord saw something else and moved me on. I still love everyone at CKC and wish them all the best. And I will always keep CKC in my prayers, and I want you to keep them in yours, because it is a ministry, and they do need all the Holy Help they can get.

So what has happened since then? Well, I have gotten a job, but I have set my sights on something else (with my new boss's knowledge): professional baseball.

For many of you, this will be a shock, because most of you had no idea I love the game, let alone that I can actually play. Yes, pro is a challenge, but major leagues and professional aren't identical. Many people whose skill is not sufficient to play on the major league level still make a decent income playing a game.

Why would I want to do that? Because it gives me travel, income, and evangelism opportunities. I have to go to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the five-day tryout in April (19-23). And I don't know what teams will be represented there, nor where they will be based. The organization that set this up has connections with teams all over the country (yes, including major league teams), so it is likely that I will no longer be home (in St Petersburg) often enough to continue my commitments here after April. Of course, there is the possiblity that no one will sign me, and I'll be right back here, and I am okay with that.

Some of you are still stuck on the phrase "new boss," from three paragraphs ago. Yes, I have a new job, as advertising specialist with I start tomorrow. It is a commission-only sales job, but, like I said in one of my other emails, I have enough money in hand to get all the way through April, so, even if I hit a rough patch with this, I'm still okay.

How did I get all this money while losing my job? Well, the Lord made sure that I could not file my taxes before the Friday after I got fired. Then He gave me two odd jobs that following Monday. Then someone came Wednesday into my Wednesday night first-graders' class and handed me $100 plus a wonderfully delicious apple-bread loaf that her neighbor had made. And I have a pay-check coming in for that week that I was fired, because my boss graciously let me finish out the week, though she gave me notice on Tuesday.

During all this time, the Lord has kept my eyes open for evangelism opportunities, keeping tracts in my hands, or shirts on my back when tracts wouldn't do, and some of those opportunities have been some real humdingers!

Saturday night, I was reluctant to go to BJ's Brewhouse with the guys and gals from the Vine, for many reasons, but the Lord overruled me by having JT drive me, and really opened a door I wasn't expecting.

I was wearing my "Jesus For Jews" polo that I got two-and-a-half years ago while volunteering with Jews For Jesus in NYC. Well, one of the waitresses came up and asked me if she could ask me a weird question: "May I take a picture of the back of your shirt?"

Of course I didn't mind.

"Our kitchen manager is Jewish, and we are always teasing him about it."

Hmm...not the best "in" but God can use it. I told her, "Hey, if tell him that he can find me at Calvary Chapel." She said she would.

I don't know how many people look at a Christian T-shirt, but I know that I do pay a lot of attention to people's T-shirts, though my reason is so that I can use it to start an evangelistic conversation. For that reason, and the above real-life example, I try to wear shirts that do proclaim the Gospel message. But God does have other tools that He gives me.

Two Sundays ago, I had to go to the grocery store, and the cashier yawned. I commented that she should get some more sleep, and she said something about "All that partying."

Now, when someone says that about me, I know that they are joking, likely taking a shot at me because I really don't go to parties, but when a woman with a boyish haircut says it, I take notice. I was just going to walk out (because my transaction was finished), but I turned around instead and gave her a Gospel tract, saying, "Here: this is for you." She took it, and I left.

The next Sunday, I was back, and she was there, too. I asked her if she could take a large bill, and she affirmed, so I gave her one. She started to enter the numbers, $1,000,000,000, and stopped and could not help but laugh. I told her she could keep it, and I gave her exact change, which I somehow had in my wallet. I haven't seen her after that day, but her name is Saraia (Si-RAY-ah), so you can pray for her.

Also, a while back, I think I told you about the Muslim guy Ali I had witnessed to who runs a Citgo on US 19 (the one right down the road from Calvary Chapel's meeting place, not too far from Wal-Mart). I think about him and lift a quick prayer for him every time I pass it. I went to get a Gatorade this past Wednesday (I was walking a lot, and it was very hot), and he was there. He asked me for my phone number so he could set an appointment with me to talk about Islam vs. Christianity again. Well, praise the Lord. I have yet to hear from him, but please pray that he does call and that we will have a fruitful conversation.

This incident meant that the book we got during the Perspectives class from Don Richardson The Secrets of the Koran was now required reading. The Lord having removed other responsibilities from me (i.e., CKC) I had all of Friday to read it, and I did. Wow.

Some of you remember how Don Richardson had spoken of how God had planted "redemptive analogies" in every indigenous culture of the world (the Chinese "lamb over me" design for the word meaning "righteousness"; the Sawi's "peace child," whereby a man would give his son to his enemy, who would accept the son and thereby agree never to harm the family who gave him up or their friends/associates/fellow villagers, and thus end all hostilities; etc.) so that the Gospel would make perfect sense to the hearers. Well, Satan made sure that Islam--which is not an indigenous religion--has no such analogies, making the Gospel unreasonable to a Muslim mind. Well, now you know why I am praying for Divine Wisdom on how to approach Ali.

I do know that Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet, but don't believe His claim to be the Son of God. I have already discussed with Ali that the god of Islam (Allah) can't be the God of Christianity (or Judaism), because the Latter has a Son, and the former does not. Neither does the Latter break any of His promises, but the former issues no assurance whatsoever. May these truths sink deeply into Ali's heart as he seeks to convert me to Islam, and as I seek to show him Jesus in truth. God bless you, and thank you for your prayers.

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