19. Powerful Priorities

Faith is an inner conviction
 of being overwhelmed by God.”
— Gustaf Aulen

 

Back in 1994, as I chatted over the phone with Tom Thompson, one of the leaders directing the course of the church I attended at the time, he confessed, “I was a jerk! I was controlling, money-oriented, selfish, and lustful. I was going through the motions of being a Christian; I was even a group leader at the time. But, I sensed something was missing from my life.”

So, after his personal Bible study time one Saturday morning, Tom went to the park and began praising. That’s all. Just praising his heavenly Father – Almighty God, Creator of the earth and heavens, Redeemer and Lord. And, in the quietness and solitude of that place, God’s Spirit confirmed what he had suspected. The Holy One of Israel wanted to be Number One on Tom’s daily list of priorities.

“I realized,” Tom told me, “that God deserves the best of my time, energy and resources. He’s entitled to first place in my life. So, I continued spending time with God daily and worshiping Him on Saturday mornings. On Saturdays I don’t pray about any requests. I concentrate on how great God is and on His worthiness to be praised. This praise time soon became an indispensable source of excitement as I got to know God better.”

As Tom faithfully praised and meditated on Scripture, his concept of heaven and hell deepened, and his commitment to Christ-like obedience increased. Then, as an act of worship, Tom began asking God to reveal ways in which he could reach people with the gospel message of salvation through Jesus. Naturally, his heavenly Father was eager to comply with his request, and as Tom began asking, “Who?” and “How?” the Holy Spirit specifically directed him toward individuals who were employed by the company where he worked. As a result of his obedience to the call, one hundred-fifty of Tom’s fellow workers came to Christ over a two-year time period.

Then the company downsized and Tom lost that ministry along with his employment. He secured a position with another company in another field, but the job imposed a totally different atmosphere. Within two months, he realized that this field for ministry wasn’t as fertile as the previous one. So during one of his Saturday morning praise and worship times, Tom asked, “What now, Lord?”

Go to the mall, came the divine answer.

“I figured there had to be some mistake,” Tom recalled. “I hate the mall, and that sounded scary.” But the Holy Spirit reminded him of the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

So Tom went to the mall. Once again, God’s Spirit began directing and empowering him to speak with individuals who prayed to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Tom recalled, “There was a homeless man, a convicted drug dealer, a man who planned to commit suicide, many Hispanics, a Hindu man from India, a number of Marines, and many others who confessed that they had been searching for God.”

Forty-eight men asked Jesus Christ to come into their lives. Tom admits, “Not everyone responded to the Gospel, but it was presented once a week for two years.”

Tom considers it a privilege to talk with people on behalf of his Lord, and he confidently embraces John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If any man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I try to remember Tom’s testimony when an opportunity comes my way to share God’s love and message.

 

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind,
be alert, and always keep on praying
for all the saints.

(Ephesians 6:18)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Have you ever wondered what Paul meant when he talked about praying “continually” and “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? That may seem impossible, especially when our minds are filled with so much other “stuff.” Today set an alarm on your cell phone, PC, microwave, whatever – anything that will remind you in the midst of your day to stop for a moment and shoot up an arrow prayer. Keep it swift and simple, and let your heavenly Father know that you’re trusting Him with your life and loved ones…. Not for His benefit, but for yours.