Sidebar – Understanding Christian Vocation

Sidebar – Understanding Christian Vocation

Poor Wally is tired, I bet.

He was lamenting a bit that his various vocations kept him pretty busy this week and were preventing him from carrying out his vocation of Christian Blogger Extraordinaire 😉 I can relate.

There was a time when I desired (uh-oh!) to enter into full-time church work.  I was so involved in the various ministries of our church that I began to desire to be able to devote myself to it full time.  I thought of it as my real work, far more important than my normal 9 to 5 desk job.  I wanted to be a deaconess!  I enrolled in Concordia Seminary to study and was ready to go, but in the end I didn’t.  That’s a whole other long story, but what it basically came down to was God saidno” to my plans.

I struggled with that for a long time.  I was truly heartbroken by it.  Lord, I want to serve you!  Are you rejecting me?  Am I not fit to serve?  

I had been so sure that the desire in my heart was a holy one!  That God Himself had created the desire to serve Him in this way.  And realizing that He didn’t really threw me for a loop.  If I couldn’t trust what I thought to be a God-given desire, what could I trust??  How could I have been so wrong?  And if I couldn’t trust any of this, how could I ever figure out what God’s plan for me, personally, would be?  I felt lost

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was a traumatic event in my life.  I can’t explain why it affected me so deeply, but it did.  It took me a couple of years to mourn and come to terms with it.  Until my husband had his affair, it was the single most traumatic event in my life and the sense of loss was hard to accept.

Towards the end of my “mourning period”, I happened to be doing a lot of study on Luther’s theology of the Cross, which is closely connected to – of all things – his doctrine of Christian vocation.  

Just as a side note, the “theology of the Cross” and the doctrine of vocation are probably the two teachings that have most influenced my thinking on the Christian life.  I continue to draw heavily on the insights I learned from them, but coming across the stuff on vocation in my time of mourning/questioning did more than all the other healing combined, in helping me come to terms with “my loss”.  I think it’s fair to say that meditating on Luther’s understanding of vocation – he has some wonderful, little known insights – was instrumental in finally healing my pain and doubts.  He beautifully unfolded God’s word for me in a way that helped me make sense of my life again.

You know that saying, “once you see it, you can’t unsee it”?  That’s what it’s like.  The insights I drew from these teaching profoundly affected how I understand the Christian life; they have become the “lens” through which I approach the Scriptures and Christian piety.  

But as important as it has become to me, I’ve never been able to articulate it well.  I’ve tried to write about it at least a half a dozen or so times, but everything I’ve started has either ended up in the trash folder or is currently sitting unfinished in my drafts folder. 😕

Looking online for some inspiration, I came across this helpful summary of the doctrine of vocation and, rather than re-summarize it for you, I thought I’d simply just share it.  He explains it much better than I ever could.

If you have 20 minutes to spare, give it a look.  I guarantee you will look at your vocation in a whole new light! 


Grappling – Desire…The Root of Sin

Grappling – Desire…The Root of Sin

What do you desire?  Plenty, am I right?  

Desire, in and of itself, is not sinful, but not all desires are right desires.  Often, it is when desire turns inward toward the self that our desires become false desires, and when we’re chasing down false desires it stands in the way of us seeking right desires.

Take, for example, Esau, who traded away his birthright for a bowl of stew to calm the desires of his hungry belly.  Dude traded away the promises of God for lunch!  Much later, he realises his error, but it is too late. The promises that were intended to be his, as first born, passed to his sneaky brother instead.  We tend to look at Esau and think, What a dumbass! I would NEVER do that!  

Think again.  If you don’t see yourself in Esau, look harder.  We ARE Esau, trading away right desires for false ones, exchanging God’s good promises for the momentary desires that reside within our hearts.  

I’m not sure why we are so inclined to trust the desires of our heart – the Bible is clear that the heart of man is deceitful and wicked above all things, that our desires are in opposition to God’s.  Follow your heart is horrible, horrible advice.  

In his Commandments, God encompasses for us what right desires ought to look like – a guidebook, if you will, to bring our desires into alignment with His own – but this conversion of our desires is only and and ever begun, never fully completed in this life.  Converting our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh is a lifelong process – we are ever in need of restraining the flesh –  therefore meditating on the Commandments and their meaning ought to be a lifelong habit as well.

This is the last video (or maybe second-to-last, I can’t remember for sure) of the “Introduction to the Commandments” in this series; then we’ll be moving onto looking at the text of the Commandments and their meanings.  Lots of insightful stuff, so stay tuned!

**If you haven’t seen the earlier videos, or you want to review them before moving on to the nitty gritty of the text, you can find them here.

Breakdown

Breakdown

Something I haven’t shared with many people is that my daughter, our youngest child, is very mentally ill.  I could tell you stories about her that would curl your hair – crazy stuff you wouldn’t believe – but I don’t feel right sharing it all…its her story, not mine, and I feel an obligation to protect her privacy.  

At the same time, though, her illness, or at least the crazy behaviours that manifest when she’s symptomatic, take a very heavy toll on me.  If you’ve ever noticed that sometimes I kinda disappear for a few weeks, it’s probably because I am busy dealing with and/or recovering from my daughters shenanigans.

Let me show you what my daughter is like:

 https://youtu.be/xDmH_OMsjdc

Watching this video (which I just stumbled upon) is like seeing my daughter.  Actually, my daughter is even scarier than this girl, but what’s really eerie is that so many of the distorted cognitions she displays are identical to my daughter’s – You don’t love me, You would never do this to ______ (a sibling), You never hear me.  I don’t know what’s wrong with the girl in this video, but I can tell you that she is highly emotionally disregulated.  

We don’t quite know what is wrong g with our daughter.  She has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety stemming from PTSD as well as Bipolar Disorder, but none of those diagnoses accounts for the high degree of emotional disregulation that she experiences; I suspect that something else is going on here as well, perhaps Borderline Personality Disorder (which her dad has) or perhaps Complex PTSD which manifests in similar ways.  

This has been going on for years, since her mid-teens.  I used to say that my daughter was an emotional terrorist – that she terrorized us with her frightening emotional outbursts in order to get her way.  I know this sounds rather extreme, but the truth is that over the years, my daughter has traumatized me with her behaviour.  It can take me a couple of weeks to recover from one of her outbursts.

My daughter has three lovely children, my beloved grandchildren, whose well-being I am concerned for.  Recently my daughter has become very unstable and I had to remove the children from her care.  This is not the first time I’ve had to do this, but this time I was compelled to get Family and Children’s Services involved.  Our preference would be to deal with this as a family without having to get social services involved but the reality is, we need outside resources and support to help her.  We simply aren’t equipped to deal with this all on our own.

Right now I am the devil – I took away her children and called the authorities for help – proof that I am evil and don’t love her.  In her delusional state, she is unable to see that it was necessary; she can’t even see that her children are suffering and intervention was needed to protect them from further harm.  It was hard for me to do, because I knew that once she found out she would punish me for it.  

The psychiatric care my daughter is receiving has been spotty at best – this is a medically underserviced area and the the few p-docs we have are over burdened. There simply aren’t enough psychiatrists to go around.  Family and Children’s Services has ordered a thorough psych exam for her so I am hopeful that she may finally get a solid diagnosis and the help she needs.

I don’t know why I decided to share this – I guess I just needed to get it out.  If you are inclined, prayers for our family would be greatly appreciated.

Grappling: The Two Tables of the Law 

Grappling: The Two Tables of the Law 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The Pharisees come up and ask Jesus Which commandment is the greatest? and Jesus’ answer is interesting.  He doesn’t point to any one commandment – in fact, he doesn’t quote any single commandment at all; rather, he gives a summary of all the Commandments – love God and love people.  

His answer is instructive – the heart of the Commandments is to love; not as an emotional abstraction (“all we need is love!”) but that in the Commandments we find very specific, concrete principles of what love for God and neighbour ought to look like.  

God’s high, holy standard for us is encompassed within the Commandments as a whole.  You can’t pick out just one and elevate it above all the others – they are designed to work together as a complete ethical system, each commandment flowing out from the previous one all the way back to the first, and summarized into two tables – love for God (the first table) and love for neighbour (the second table).

Jesus also points out that our love for God and neighbour is never finished.  Love your God with ALL your heart and ALL your soul and ALL your mind.  How’s that working out for ya?  If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ll find that under the Law there is always more to do.

When we confess our sins before God, we confess this very thing – We have not loved You with our whole hearts; we have not loved our neighbour as ourselves.  We have sinned against God and neighbour in thought, word and deed; by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. 

Thanks be to God that we are covered by the blood of the Lamb, who left nothing undone; who is the beginning and end of love! His grace is sufficient and in Him all things are made complete.  

Grappling: The Ten Commandments As Virtues

Grappling: The Ten Commandments As Virtues

For me, this is where the study of the Commandments really starts to get interesting 😀

I know I’m going against the grain here, but I happen to believe that one can know what one should or should not do at any given moment and under all circumstances according to the Ten Commandments.  That is to say, we can confidently find God’s will for our entire lives in them.  (That provocative enough for ya?)   

If you object to this idea, it’s ok, I get it…just hang with me for a bit, alright?

If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall we looked at the Law as the primary means by which God confronts us with our unpayable debt of sin, and our desparate need for a Saviour who will rescue us from it.  The Law, however, shows us more than just what we ought not to do, it also shows us the virtues that we ought to strive after as Christians. Not virtues for the sake of our virtuousness (for we are already wholly righteous before God, in Christ) but virtues that reflect who we are under God, and how we are to live in service to one another.  Remember, the Commandments still apply, but our motivation for keeping them under Christ is radically shifted.  We no longer keep them out of fear for our own condemnation – because that has already been taken care of, dealt with at the Cross.  Now we keep them because in them we find who God created us to be.

In the Creation, God told us what man’s job is – to care for all of Creation.  And because God saw that it was not good that man should be alone, He created woman and then, in His wisdom, He allowed us to become participants in creation through the joining of man and woman together to create offspring.  In a very real sense, Creation was not fully completed until the first child was born.  We were created to create, and to care for the created.

We were originally created to know how to do that – the Law that is written on the hearts of all testifies to this – but sin has obscured our view.  We can no longer clearly see how it is that God created us to live in community together, under Him, caring for one another.  God said it is not good for man to be alone, and that is true for us too.  We’re all in this together. It’s not good for us to live in isolation of one another, nor to live as if we were, caring only for ourselves without regard for others.  

Jesus Himself told us how we ought to live in relation to one another – the first shall be last – and if we knew how to do that, we wouldn’t need the Commandments to tell us, would we?

There’s this lovely description of what the life of the faithful looks like from the prophet Micah:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

He has told you what is good…  

God has informed the heart of every man that which is good, and when that was not enough, He spoke it to us as well; commanded that it be written down, preserved, and taught to all generations. Not for the sake of our own righteousness, but so that God’s righteousness – which looks very much like servanthood, like the first shall be last, like Jesus – may be made visible in the world.

He has told you what is good – and am I wrong to think that the “good” referred to here is God’s Word?  I don’t think so…God is good, and none other.  His Word, including His Commandments are the good that He has told us.  

The more I study the Commandments the more I am convinced that they are instructions for daily life; the broad principles by which we are to relate to God and to each other.  The first shall be last and the last shall be first?  Love your enemies?  I wouldn’t know how to do that, how to put “skin” on those exhortations and live them out apart from the Commandments.  

Grappling: The Law As Conscience Training

Grappling: The Law As Conscience Training

Always let your conscience be your guide.                                               -Jiminy Cricket 

It’s good advice, so long as your conscience is properly calibrated by God’s word.  

The Bible doesn’t speak a lot about the conscience – at least, not directly – but what it does tell is is that we all have one, and that apart from God’s word our consciences remain unsure.  

How’s your conscience?

A clean conscience, one that stands sure in the word of God, is a great gift of God. But how do you know if your conscience is right? 

Ten Commandments to the rescue!  

Note: I REALLY liked this video. So much so that I did a little digging and found a few more resources – both expandments upon this short video, taking a more in-depth look at a Christian theology of the conscience. One is in written format, the other is a series of three audio podcasts.  Both are long; both are excellent.  And both are quite accessible- you don’t have to be a theological geek to understand them!

Written format here

Audio Format: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
 

And the video

Grappling – Using The Law As A Mirror

Grappling – Using The Law As A Mirror

Way back in confirmation class, we learned the 3 functions of the Law (curb, mirror and guide).  We were given just the basics, really, and it was literally decades later before I was able to distinguish between the first use (curb) and the third use (guide) – they seemed almost interchangable to my mind.  But the second use of the Law, that one I fully understood.  We were taught that the second use of the Law is the primary use of the Law, that it functioned as a mirror to show us our sin and to show us our need for a Saviour.  We used the acronym “S.O.S.” to help us remember the two components of the second use, and how they are connected in the life of the Christian.

In this video, Pastor Wolfmueller discusses how he uses the 10 Commandments as a “diagnostic test” in his devotional life – he breaks the commandments down into a series of diagnostic questions to meditate on as a means of acknowledging our own sin. This is meant to be a devotional exercise, a way to prepare our hearts and focus our minds on what we ought to pray for.

Enjoy!

The Breakfast Club, Redux

The Breakfast Club, Redux

Twenty years ago, I began volunteering at the school breakfast program at my kids’ school.  I was an “inaugural” volunteer, there for the very first day the program commenced.  In the beginning it was hard to get volunteers and the program was in danger of shutting down unless we could find more people to help.  So I went to my church and asked for help and they came.  They literally saved the Breakfast Club from dying that first year, and some of the volunteers ended up staying on for years – one of them still comes in every Wednesday as he has been doing for the last 19 years.

But the real hero of this program is my mom.

I’ve written about this before, how I asked my mom if she could come help out on Mondays when we were shortest on help…and she ended up running the whole thing!

My mom is a born leader, very organized and has a way of being able to get people to all pull in the same direction.  She’s inspiring, that’s all I can say!  She brings out the best in others.

A couple of years ago she attempted to “retire”.  She deserves to.  She’s now 77 years old and she’s legally blind to boot. How she is able to do all she does, I’ll never know!  But within weeks of her stepping down as coordinator, the program began to fall apart without her leadership…so she went back.

I stopped volunteering there regularly years ago, but for the last year, I’ve been helping out again, working with her to transition her out.  I know my mom, and I know how much “her kids” mean to her – she worries that if she leaves, the program will fold.  When she leaves, she wants to know that the program will be in good hands.  And do you know who she trusts?  Me. Heh.

Now as far as running the day-to-day program goes, that’s a snap.  It’s no different than running a restaurant, really, except all the customers are kids! It’s the behind the scenes stuff – recruiting volunteers, fundraising, publicizing the program – that’s the stuff that makes me a bit nervous. However, there’s a lady at the school who’s fantastic at that kind of stuff, and she’s agreed to split the coordinator duties with me – I’ll do the day-to-day operational stuff and she’ll do the behind the scenes stuff, with one exception – she won’t do any public speaking.  But that’s ok, I’m entirely comfortable doing that.  

Earlier this year, we had a fight on our hands to keep the program operating as it has been for the last two decades.  All of the other schools in this area that run breakfast programs are using a provincially funded “box” program. Basically, they offer 3 food choices each morning, something easy that the kids can just grab out of a bin.  So one morning they might offer a bagel, a banana and a yogurt.  The next day, an apple, some cheese and muffins.  Like that.  It’s a much easier program to run, especially if you are short of volunteers, which seems to be the primary reason that schools end up moving to it – it’s hard to get and keep the number of volunteers needed to run a program like ours.  And there’s nothing wrong with doing it that way; it fills a need; but our program is so much more!  

From the beginning, the philosophy of the The Breakfast Club has been community.  It was very important to my mom that the program not be stigmatized as being for “poor” people. It’s a community service and all are welcome.  Moms and dads and little brothers and sisters are all welcome to join their school aged children for breakfast, and they do!

This program is so much more than simply feeding hungry tummies!  There is a need for that, for sure – there is a lot of food insecurity in this area, families that depend on food distribution programs to feed themselves – but there are other great needs as well.  Some of these kids come from pretty chaotic homes, with mom’s and dads struggling with more than just financial concerns. The Breakfast Club doesn’t just help them stretch their food budget, it helps them stretch their emotional resources as well.  We are here to help them get through those crazy mornings when nothing has gone right and everything (in the moment) seems to be falling apart at the seams.  The goal is to help families set their kids up for successful learning each day.

So each morning, volunteers arrive at the school well before 8 am to prepare breakfast and set up tables and chairs in the gym.  At 8 am we open the doors and families begin to straggle in.  Breakfast is not served until 8:30, so we have games and crafts set up in the back of the gym to keep them occupied until serving time.  Just opening the doors 30 minutes early is a tremendous help for parents who need to leave for work and otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so because they lack child care.  

At 8:30, everybody lines up for breakfast. There’s an assortment of cold cereals, a fresh fruit tray, milk, juice and bagels with toppings, a hot food choice (which rotates each day), yogurt, cheese and whatever other goodies we can get our hands on.  The kids move through the line and choose their breakfast and then head to the tables to eat together.  That’s when the real fun starts, lol.

We supervise these kids very closely, encouraging them to use good and proper manners with each other, teaching them table etiquette, really. Wasting food is strongly discouraged.  All the kids are required to clear their places when they are finished and bring their dirty dishes to the busbin for washing later.  Then they may go back to the craft and game tables to play for a while until 9:10 when they are dismissed for their classes.  All the crafts and games must be picked up and returned to their shelves before anyone may leave.  The rule is, if you played, you clean until it’s done.  

There’s so much more going on here than feeding kids breakfast.  Little things, but important things.  Everyday there are opportunities to model and reinforce life skills – virtues, even – the importance of kindness to others, being a good steward of the gifts you have been given, taking responsibility for yourself and your actions, showing respect to those in authority over them – there are so many little ways each day that were teaching them how to live in community with on another.

Consider this – some of these kids will be coming for breakfast, day after day, for the next eight years.  That’s a significant amount of time to be an influence on a young life.

You know, whenever the kids find out that their beloved Nancy is my mom, they all look at me with awe. Nancy is your mom?  You’re so lucky!  

This is the kind of influence my mom has on these kids.  The worst off of them have respect for no one, but they respect my mom.  They adore her.

That’s a heck of a legacy to follow. I don’t think the current school administration fully understands what my mom has managed to do here.  The principals come and go so quickly they never really get to appreciate the larger impact it’s having.  Some of the kids who attended the program back in the day now come back when they’re in high school to put in volunteer hours themselves.  

This is worthy work to do.

My main reason for sharing all this is to humbly ask you to pray for me, and for the work of the Breakfast Club.  This is a significant commitment for me – if I’m going to to this (and I am) then I have to be in it for the long haul.  Please pray that the Lord would direct my ways and strengthen me when my commitment wavers, and that above all He would use all our efforts for the glory of his kingdom.

This Is My Neighbourhood. These Are My Neighbours

This Is My Neighbourhood. These Are My Neighbours

So, my current living arrangements are a bit unusual.  For the last two years, my husband and I have been living with my son and his children in their home.

My husband and I are basically starting over.  We’re living in the very same housing complex that we did when we first got married and started our family.

We lived here for four years the first time around, then bought our first home close by in the same neighbourhood.

It was not the nicest complex then, and not that much has changed; this is still a troubled area.  Everybody here has a story, and sadly, many of them are living in the pain of their pasts.  

The people here are vulnerable in every sense of the word.

Some of my neighbours prefer to keep to themselves.  Their body language speaks, Stay away; you keep your distance and I’ll keep mine.  Others though, seem starved for some interaction – a polite smile on a friendly face is enough to invite conversation, and they will stop and tell me their life story.

As I get to know them, people tell me stuff, personal stuff that I have no business knowing.  Stuff that breaks my heart and makes me want to despair that humans could treat each other so shabbily.  As if other people were mere commodities to be consumed until they have served their purpose and are then discarded.
I have pain, they tell me, over and over again.  Give me compassion, their eyes beg, validate my pain, my right to have sorrow over this…but do it in a way that doesn’t take away my victimhood, don’t make me look at my own part in the choices that brought me to this place, because on top of everything else going on I can’t bear to look.

I can understand this so well.  I’ve felt this; lived this. They long to hear to sweetness of the Gospel, but are terrified of being crushed by the Law.  They may not know it, but they do.

So many of my neighbours have truly been victimized; they’ve had traumas perpetrated upon them, things that have so skewed their view of the world that their capacity to make healthy choices is diminished.  Worse, some of them aren’t able to distinguish what a healthy choice looks like, much less apply it to their lives.

They’ve heard about Jesus before, of course, but what He offers seems so distantly related to what they live every day – the forgiveness of sins doesn’t even register on their radar.  

Even the most casual mention of God, faith, church brings out the suspicion.

I once casually mentioned to a neighbour about needing to get my grandkids ready to go to church.

You don’t actually believe in that bullshit, do you?  It comes out sounding partly disdainful, partly incredulous.

Yes, yes I actually do, I say with a chuckle.

You know, no one has ever asked me why I believe…they usually just launch into a big explanation for why they don’t.

The Church just wants your money.

The Church is full of hypocrites.

The Church is so judgmental.

The Church is not for me, they tell me, over and over again. Your God is not for me.  

It’s a paradox.  Their hearts are so bruised and tender, and yet so hardened towards the very Balm that would heal them.

And what can I do?  Do I argue with them and tell them they’re wrong?  I’m sure that would go over real well.  Do I keep my mouth shut while they slag all over my Lord, mischaracterise Him and profane His name?  That’s tough to take, it makes me angry and sad at the same time.  It make me want to shake them and say This Jesus that you think you know is not the Jesus that I know, not the Jesus that the Bible portrays!  

But I keep my mouth shut.  This is not the time for me to talk, not yet.  This is the time to listen.  I’ve learned you only get so many chances with these people; the ground needs to be well prepared before I even attempt to plant a seed.

So I listen to their objections (rejections, really) to God and faith and anything that has to do with church; I listen and I try to understand and empathize, to hear their stories from their perspective as people who have been broken by others and are trying to make sense of it all.  I try to give them what they need in the moment – someone who will listen to their tale of woe without judging them.

It’s tricky.  There’s a fine line between being non-judgmental and being an enabler.  I don’t pretend to have it all worked out – I just do the best I can, in the moment. 

I am acutely aware that their greatest need, the one that I long to tell them more about, is their redemtion in Christ. 

Redemption!  What a wonderful word!

I long to tell them that this mess of a life that they’re living has already been redeemed; that the ashes of their ugliness have already been exchanged for beauty. That everything that they’re looking for is found in Christ.

Not judgment, but grace, mercy, and peace.  Forgiveness for the wrongs they have done and for the wrongs that were perpetrated against them.  

There are moments – just moments, when they have laid their souls bare to me and the unspoken question is left hanging between us – If your God is so good, how could He have let these things happen to me?  Why on earth would I ever put my trust in THAT?  

I will only have a moment to respond, to get in a quick soundbite before the conversation will shift away to something less uncomfortable for them.

How do you tell someone in a sentence or two how sorry you are for all that they have gone through, how it grieves your heart that they have suffered so and that they shouldn’t have, that it was never meant to be that way among us?  That I understand how crippling it is to carry around not just the guilt for my own sin, but also the weight of the anger and bewilderment and sorrow of the sins that were committed upon me?  That I can’t figure out how to reconcile myself to people like that, much less to a God like that?  And that in the end I found that I couldnt and that I had to let God be reconciled to me?   And that in doing so, letting myself live in that reconciliaton, that I finally found my peace?

How do you get past all their assumption and fears and pain, and communicate ALL THAT in the few moments you will be allowed?

Slowly.

Patiently.

Moment by moment.

It’s not always easy to know what to say in those moments.  

I can never know when their hearts are prepared and the soil is ready, so I want to make the most of the moment, say something that matters, that speaks to where they are in this moment and turns them towards their Saviour as well.

I’m chuckling here, but plenty of the seeds that I’ve dropped have not so much fallen on stony ground as they have been spit back at me!  But not all. Sometimes, something appears to penetrate the soil.

Just a tiny little seed. In itself, it seems so insignificant, so ineffectual. It’s hard to trust that something so small could do the work of bringing about a healthy, flourishing faith.  I want to push the moment I have been given because I fail to trust that this tiny seed is enough.  I want to take the moment back into my hands and make more out of it than I have been granted.

At these times, the words of Paul often come to mind:

Apollos planted, I watered, but God gave the increase.  

These words ever draw me back to trust in His sufficiency.  I have done what I could in the moment that was given me. There will be others who will also faithfully make the most of their moments.  And God will use it all, for to Him is given the increase.

That’s how we do evangelism in the ‘hood, yo. 

Slowly, patiently, moment by moment. 

And above all, trusting that God is able to use it all.

Yo.

😉