Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail
Frank Buck was a true adventurer. He lived in 1900’s and would travel all over the world bringing back all kinds of exotic animals. What set him apart from others in his profession was that he didn’t shoot the animals and bring back their stuffed skins. In Frank’s mind, anyone could gun them down, but who would dare bring back a lion or a rhino— alive?
Frank Buck probably didn’t know it, but he was very scriptural in his approach. Jesus sent us out to seek and to save the lost, not to destroy them. It seems as though some may have forgotten that key element. That infamous Wild West poster we see in movies reading, “WANTED! DEAD OR ALIVE” doesn’t fit the biblical model for evangelism.
Soul-winning is about leading others to Christ. It’s not about winning the argument or flexing our vast amounts of knowledge. It’s not about proving someone how ignorant and wrong they are. It’s not about showing others how impossible we are to defeat in the match of verbal fisticuffs. It’s about saving their souls. Jesus is looking for those gutsy followers. The ones who are willing to take action and get out there! The Greek word “ZOGREO” only appears twice in the New Testament, as far as I know. The word literally means, “to take alive.”
In Luke 5:10 the word is used to express one being taken alive for God. In 2 Timothy 2:26 Paul would us the word when talking about those who have been taken captive by the devil. These two verses remind us that all will be taken somehow. Some from life to death, others from death to life. Matthew 28 is the Great Commission, our permission to baptize people for the remission of their sins. You can be that gutsy follower since Jesus said He’s going to go out with us, “even to the end of the world.” Let’s get out there and bring ‘em back alive.
Late in 2010, Jason Good was surveying timber in Meigs County, Ohio, when he came upon a bizarre sight. Three huge whitetail deer were dead, floating in a creek with their antlers locked. It was an 11-pointer, a 10-pointer, and an 8-pointer. The landowner, Brien Burke, figured that two of them were fighting when the third came in on the opposite side. Then all three were so tightly locked together that they could not pull loose (Field & Stream, Steven Hill, 12/5/10, online ed.). How sad that three beautiful, majestic creatures got themselves tangled up so much in a fight that they fell into a creek and drowned. Fighting brought these deer to a tragic end.
The same thing can happen in our human relationships. James writes, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (3:13-18).
Wise, understanding people prove such through gentle wisdom. The opposite have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their hearts. James says that where this is, there is disorder and every evil thing. How often do we forfeit peace and gentleness due to a large dose of selfish ambition? We tangle with others and hurt them and often hurt ourselves. At its worst, we can inflict spiritual death. When that happens, we are in just as much trouble. What we need in our relationships with others is the wisdom from above, described in James 3:17. But we must sow peace to reap the fruit of it. Let’s be at peace with men and God!
A few years back I started goose hunting and I found out something very interesting about myself. I like it a lot! They are exciting to hunt, easy to harvest the meat, and they are delicious when I smoke them into jerky. Many of you probably don’t understand the challenge and excitement involved since most of the time you could just grab one off the street and throw it into your car. But out in the open, where it’s legal to shoot them, it can be a real challenge.
In order to get flying geese to come in for a landing close enough to shoot them, there are two basic tactics. One is decoys. Geese want to join up with other geese, and if they see some on the ground it tells them that it is probably a good area to feed and that it’s safe. In order to fool them, your decoys need to look real, and mine look real. Anytime I leave my spot and return, I spend an embarrassing amount of time sneaking up on my own decoys. The second thing you need is to sound like a goose. Your call needs to be authentic. It needs to get their attention to draw them into the kill zone.
Many of you have already connected the dots in my story. It’s so simple really. It’s a do-it-yourself lesson. We need to be on guard as Christians so as not to be fooled or deceived by teaching that is not authentic, not the real deal. Teaching that may look and sound good, but will cost us our souls, can fool us.
But that’s not the lesson. I challenge myself and all of us to consider an even more sobering question. Have I become the decoy? Has looking and sounding like a Christian become enough for me? My calls are spot on. I can speak their language. My decoys look fantastic. They dutifully show up for every hunting trip. But they are not real, and they don’t move.
A real goose moves.
A real goose flies.
A real goose feeds.
A real goose is active all the time.
A real goose is busy being a real goose, all the time.
Read Matthew 25:34-36.
So are you, am I the real deal? It depends on what we do between “hunting trips.”
[Originally from Scott’s “90 Seconds of Power” devotional at Bear Valley]