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October 2007 Newsletter

“ And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. ”

Matthew 13:3-9

Where Are Your Tickets To Heaven?
This is one of the more interesting parables in the Bible, as it is loaded with so much information. People always talk about how they want fruit in their life that will bear thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.

People also wonder whether the seeds that were sown upon the stony places and amongst the thorns wound up being believers that went to heaven, or were false converts.

But one thing I think many people forget about this parable is that the sower sowed seed. He threw a lot of seed out there. He threw it everywhere. He wasn’t concerned what type of ground it landed on because he knew that it was God’s job to change someone’s heart. He just needed to be faithful. He just needed to reach in his bag and throw a bunch of seed out there. How can crops grow unless a seed is planted? The Lord tells us in 1 Corinthians that He gives increase to seeds that are planted.

So how is your planting going? How many seeds have you thrown out there this week? How many conversations have you had with the lost? How many tracts have you handed out this week? How many tickets to heaven have you given away this week? Don’t always worry about the quantity, but be faithful everywhere you are. I love a good hour long conversation with a lost person. Yes, I could hand out a hundred tracts during that hour, but I want to be faithful as the Lord puts hungry hearts in front of me.

I pray when I am going out to eat that I actually go to the restaurant where the Lord wants me. I also pray that we will get the right waitress that the Lord wants us to talk to. Please enjoy the email below from one of those waitresses:

“ Dear Mark,

My name is Michele, and I had the privilege of waiting on you and your family members at Johnny Carino’s in Lakewood, Colorado. I'm not sure if you will remember who I am, but I will never forget the miracle that God played out through your hands. Let me explain. When you all first were seated in my section, I was not all too happy with our hostess. You see, for some reason, on a very slow night, she had managed to double seat me right after having taken a table of eight for what seemed like no reason. Normally, this would not have been a big deal for me, but I was going through a lot of family problems. I thought that my boyfriend of four years had been arrested and incarcerated again that day, in addition to him selling our only means of transportation the day before for drugs that we had both been struggling to stay away from. He was losing that battle with Satan. ”

“ I am a very open person generally, never hesitant to tell people what my story is. However, I usually do not poor out my detailed life story within ten minutes of taking a dinner order from any of my tables. When I commented to you all that I might make some mistakes and apologized ahead of time, you asked if I might elaborate on what was going on at home. Through God, I spilled a lot more of my life story out to you than I had ever done to a guest before in my life. I had stated to the other table that I was taking care of as well that I was not on top of things that evening and they were sympathetic and nice as well. I talked to you about how my boyfriend, Daniel had just been incarcerated, violating his parole because of a drug that we couldn't seem to get away from no matter how hard either of us tried. When it came time for me to give you the check, you gave me your card and asked me to email you his DOC number and all that fun stuff so that you could witness to him and help him become the husband and father to our two children that God intended him to be. You are the first person in my life to not even bring up the option of leaving him high and dry to deal with his addiction on his own. Instead, you went right to trying to help him become the man God wanted. ”

“ After telling me that, you handed me your two books and told me that you were speaking at a conference in Colorado Springs and had prayed to God earlier that afternoon and he told you to go out to eat and meet a waitress. That alone gave me goose bumps, and a reassured feeling that everything would work itself out in time. I carried the two books in my hand with me over to the other table of eight to drop off their check to them and they asked me why I had those books in my hands. I explained to them briefly what had happened so far, and they all started looking at the books passing them from person to person down the table. There was an older woman on the end that stood up and said "let me see those books because I am a Christian, and I don't want someone giving you false ideas my dear!" I went over and stood next to her and as she approved the contents of the books she looked at me and stated that it was awesome for you to have given those to me, but what would be even better is if you also gave me the twenty percent gratuity that I work so hard to feed my kids with. She said too many people give Christians a bad name because they think that dropping a card instead of a tip is right. I agreed with her, and said that I couldn't feed my children with a card that tells me how to be saved. Not that it isn't important as well. You had walked out to your car to get me several more copies of your books including a set for my younger sister whom I had told you was very much God's light for me this past two years. I walked over to the table to get the signed credit card receipt to find that you had left me a X dollar tip. I turned around to one of my managers and asked him if I was seeing things right, and as he said yes, I went straight to the woman at the end of my other table, sat down right next to her as if I had known her my whole life, put the tip out for her to see and started crying. She looked at me and started crying herself and gave a huge hug. You witnessed to her as well that day. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that I didn't need that money because I did, but I almost wished that I could give it back to you to have people understand how much my heart and my faith and my sobriety needed that to happen. ”

“ I truly feel that had that course of events not happened right then, I would have been using again myself before the week was out. I had started to doubt that God was there watching over and seeing the things that I did. That he cared at all. I doubted that everything that I gave from my heart for everyone around me when they were in need was done in waste without even the courtesy of having that grace returned in my time of need. I would have lost everything I had worked so hard to change in myself. At that moment, it renewed my faith in God. ”

“ A couple of days went by, and I was able to witness to several people just by telling them what had happened and that was an awesome feeling to have. I received a call three days later from Daniel stating that they had detained him for a couple of days until a bed could open up at a rehab center in Greeley. The Lord was not sending him back to prison and giving him the help that he had asked him for. I am still anxious for him to speak with you and hopefully gain truth and guidance from you. He was the only one when told the story had a negative thing to say about it. Unfortunately, one of the things that we deal with in our relationship is distrust and jealousy. Both of us have done plenty of lying to each other through the course of our addictions, and I was unfaithful to him when he went to prison originally. So automatically his guard went up, and instead of hearing my testimony, he judged and assumed it was not of good intention. The night that I told him about it he said, ‘Come on Michele, are you seriously trying to tell me this was some kind of miracle? I am a realist...God's not helping us, no one is.’ My heart sunk into the floor, and I let him go. When I talked to him a week later, once he had been taken to Greeley and his mind was cleared from the fog of the drug, he mentioned a couple things about church and God to me, so I believe that was mostly Satan talking, but I pray for him everyday that God would move in his life like he is in mine. I will never give up on him or our relationship and family. ”

“ It has been about two weeks since meeting you, and it took me forever to get this email out to you. Last night, I was speaking with my younger sister about how I felt like God had touched me and changed me in this huge way from that event, and that I wasn't really doing anything with it. I hadn't even started reading one of the books you had given me yet! She said that she was feeling the same way, too wrapped up in the matters of this world to be living for God like she should be. Our conversation was unsettling to both of us, so we prayed and said our goodbyes. When I got off the phone with her at 8:30 last evening, I picked up One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven, and I didn't set it down until I was done at 4:30 this morning. God finished the conversation he started to have with me two weeks ago when meeting you Mark. I felt just about every emotion I have in my heart last night, and mostly over the opportunities that I have had to witness and show people God's love that I haven't over the past several years. It reminded me of a car accident that I was in when I was sixteen that one of my friends lost his life in. I wondered for the first time whether my friend Chris had gone to heaven, and felt guilt for the first time for not telling him about God and Jesus way back then because I was too afraid of being rejected. ”

That email I got from Michelle was very humbling. I had no clue that at the table next to mine there was an older Christian woman checking out my books to make sure they were okay, and if we left a tip! You might think you are just telling the waitress eternal truth, but God might be using it to impact other lives besides that one.

Where are your tickets to heaven right now? They don’t belong in your pocket. I am glad I was handing some out at Johnny Carino’s restaurant. Don’t die with a bunch of tickets to heaven in your pocket, because you don’t need them on the other side. You must give them away here. Reach in that pocket and start giving those tickets to many different people and let God worry about making those seeds grow. You just be faithful in the coming days.
Until the nets are full,


Updated October 23, 2007