Attracting Others

As Christians, our goal is to see others make the decision to live for God. To repent of their sins and live in obedience to God’s Word. In order for those who haven’t made that decision to get there, we must make Christianity attractive. But how do we do that? Because what they know of Christianity doesn’t appeal to them. If someone hasn’t read and studied the Bible, all they know about Christians is what they do and don’t do. What they stand for and what they stand against. They think it’s all about rules they don’t want to follow.

Look like this. Don’t look like that. Wear this. Don’t wear that. Go here. Don’t go there. Drink this. Don’t drink that. Say this. Don’t say that. Sleep here. Don’t sleep there. Rules like that don’t attract too many people. But what message are we sending when we say and do the same things they say and do? What sets us apart? What makes us different if we’re just like them?

And it really shouldn’t be an us or them kind of issue. Should it? But for this moment, let’s think along those terms. Just to see where it takes us. No judging. Just considering how to appeal to those who don’t call themselves Christians. Because really. We are in two sets of camps, based on our beliefs.

How do we make living a Christian life appealing to those who don’t want it? After all, the Bible tells us that we who believe carry the scent of death to those who don’t believe. Yet the aroma of Christ is sweet. But they can’t smell the sweetness. So why would they want it? Who is attracted to stink, after all?

Some people think they need to change. To clean up their lives before they turn themselves over to Christ. But he doesn’t require that. He invites you to come to him just as you are. He will let you know when or if he wants you to change.

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The gospel is offensive. It has always been offensive to those in rebellion to Christ. God isn’t going to change who he is. We need him to change who we are or face the consequences!

Samuel E. Tolley III

And those who haven’t accepted the message of salvation and repentance think we are fools for believing it. After all. If we’re good, isn’t that good enough? Some would say so. But for those who believe the Bible speaks the truth, we know that being good isn’t good enough. Because we’re never going to be good enough on our own. We need the saving blood of Jesus Christ to wash away our sins. We need to repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness. Then we, too, will be covered with the life-giving perfume.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 8

So. If the gospel is offensive to those who don’t believe, how do we make it un-offensive? How do we attract others to faith in Christ?


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:5


Of course. The Bible gives us some guidelines to follow in order to attract others to Christianity. We must show love to everyone, even when we don’t feel like it. And especially when others don’t deserve it. We must be joyful. Joy comes from a deep abiding peace that when we trust God in all circumstances. We must pursue peace with everyone. Even when it’s difficult. We must turn the other cheek, but we don’t have to allow others to walk all over us. We’re told that patience is a virtue, but it speaks volumes when put into action. Being kind to others should be a given. We think. But sometimes we have to try a little harder than expected, but the payout is worth it. Goodness and faithfulness. Gentleness and self-control. When others see these fruits of the spirit in our lives, they will wonder how it’s possible to live in such a manner. We have the opportunity to show that Christ living in us makes us more like him. And that he makes a difference in how we live our lives. We always have a choice as to how we live and how we treat others. And a godly lifestyle is attractive, even when others don’t know where the godliness comes from.

We always have a choice as to the type of employee or employer we will be. Go to work and do a good job. Be faithful. Be diligent. Speak up when necessary. And keep quiet when necessary. Others will notice. Be a good neighbor. Show kindness to those in need. Be generous, but not overly frivolous. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t complain or argue.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:14-15

We believers can do this. We can live a life that makes others want peace, joy, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Oh. We may not get it right every time, but let’s show the world that they need what we have. And let’s do it with grace.

Patience is a Virtue

It was a cool and sunny afternoon as I sat on the deck talking on the phone with a friend. We were talking about the difficulties of life. We talked through the trials of relationships and how trust needs to be earned. And at times, trust needs to be relearned. And re-earned. We lamented that men and women don’t really understand each other. We agreed that we both live a really good life, imperfect as it may be.

Oh. He is innocent of any indiscretions, and she knows it. But he acted guilty. And she is struggling with letting it go.

What is it you want? I asked.

By dwelling on the past, she can’t look to the future. By holding on to disappointments, she can’t move on to happiness. By living in fear, she can’t trust.

As I sat on the deck talking to her, I looked up at the trees. I noticed that the green leaves were slowly beginning to turn red and gold. This year, the leaves are turning to fall colors later rather than sooner. The weather’s been warm, so the loss of chlorophyll hasn’t been very orderly this year.

I’m eager to see the trees in all the splendor of fall hues. It’s mid-October, and I’m beginning to feel impatient. I’m ready for cool, crisp weather, and it’s finally beginning to appear. It’s beginning to feel like fall. Now when will the look match the feel?

I know. I’m being impatient. But I enjoy the beauty and crispness of fall. Now is the time for it.

What is it that I want?


The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9


She is a great watchdog. She hears every noise. She can see through the dark with laser accuracy. She smells every deer that she can’t see and can’t smell the deer that she does see. She takes her treats outside and leaves them in the grass or on the driveway. She makes sure those treats are safe each time she goes outside. She whines when she sees her favorite neighbor dogs walking by the house. But when she sees her arch enemies, she acts like a maniac. She guards me like I’m a national treasure, and takes up too much space on the bed. She has developed anxious tendencies. She’s rather needy. She requires a lot of attention. Yet all her needs are met in abundance.

What more could she want?

Our neighborhood has recently acquired a black cat. It roams around searching for anything it can devour. It seems to be attracted to my property. I’ve seen it round the back corner of the house, which turns on the motion sensor light. I’ve noticed the cat sitting on the step in the path out back. And today, I watched it eating the treat that my dog had left on the driveway. The cat sat there and ate the entire treat. It made sure to lick up all the crumbs. Then it jumped on the stone wall and groomed itself. It seemed very content until the dog saw it and went berserk.

The thing is. My dog is the one causing the cat to be a regular visitor. If the dog wouldn’t leave food outside, the cat would have to look elsewhere for its next meal. But the dog doesn’t know she’s the problem. She’s only doing what seems natural to her. But her natural tendencies are causing problems that she isn’t aware of.

Life is full of ups and downs. We want it to be perfect. We want our way. We want our relationships to be perfect. We don’t like to be disappointed. We don’t like to wait. We don’t understand others. We are upset when others don’t understand our needs and wants. We expect others to read our minds when we can’t read theirs.

What I’m trying to say is that patience comes after many hardships and trials. After living through unmet expectations and accepting losses. Patience grows by persevering through failures and weaknesses. We all could do better.

Our moments of impatience are teaching moments. We want what we don’t have. Or we have what we don’t want. And all the while, our heavenly Father is calling us to be more like him. To view others we interact with as someone made in his image. As someone just as impatient and needy as we are. As someone who needs God’s forgiveness and mercy just as we do.

I think of our heavenly Father who patiently waits for us to come to him. We never need to doubt his love for us. We may not understand his plans or intentions. But his plans are perfect. He may be slow according to our plans. He never reneges on his promises. He will fulfill all of them in his own time. We may be confused about his methods. But his work is original and his timing is perfect. We have to trust him. Even when we don’t feel like it.

We become impatient with God when he doesn’t answer our prayers they way we want or in our timeframe. God is working even when we don’t see any results. God sees the big picture, and he knows who is ready to meet him face to face. He knows everyone who hasn’t made a decision to live for him. So he’s being patient. He’s waiting so more people will have time to make the decision to turn their lives over to him. In the meantime, we stew and pout because life seems unfair to us.

Perhaps it’s time for us to realize that this life is a temporary stopping point. This life is preparing us for eternity. This life is a test. Seventy or eighty years may seem like an eternity, but it’s nothing compared to an endless eternity. And we have a choice today to spend that eternity with God or with Satan. Let’s choose God now while we still have time. He’s patiently waiting. But he won’t wait forever.

In the Hands of a Patient God

There are time God’s patience astounds me.  He can hold out forever in fulfilling his promises. He takes his time to provide. He willingly waits for the right moment to endow me with unexpected blessings.

I am thankful for his patience. His slowness to respond at times has allowed my faith to grow. His timeline has given me opportunities to become more like him. To learn patience when I’m in a hurry. To show mercy to someone struggling. To extend grace when I’ve been wronged.

Oh. He could come back to earth at anytime to gather his faithful followers. He could drop everything and rescue us from this dog eat dog world. But he’s waiting.  Patiently waiting. He wants no one to perish. He doesn’t want anyone to waste their eternity in hell. So he’s waiting as long as possible for anyone and everyone to repent and call on his name. 

He’s waiting alright.  God is a patient God. In Hebrews 13:5, God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”’ It’s only through our trust and obedience that God proves this promise to be fact. It isn’t easy. It isn’t simple. But it is. Trust and obey. Believe. Hope. Persevere. And wait. No matter how long it takes. Wait for God to act.


The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9


Oh. He sees us stumble. He watches us falter. He patiently looks over us as we try to guide ourselves or follow a lesser god. He allows us to try our hand at playing God. He patiently waits for us to come crawling back pleading for mercy and forgiveness. So many times. So often we try to take control. And we fail miserably. He did the same thing for the Israelites. He waited. He was patient. But time ran out for them. 

Today God is patiently waiting for us to surrender to his will. He’s waiting for all to repent and follow him. He’s waiting as long as he can. But time will run out. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Next year. Who knows? Only a patient God knows. 

Left to our own devices, we are trouble. Lying. Cheating. Stealing. We break every last one of the ten commandments without a second thought. If we can get away with it. 

Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. ~C.S. Lewis

God allowed the Israelites to run amok for years. Hundreds of years. They pursued their own dreams. Lived their lives according to their plan. They ignored God’s sovereignty. And God watched them go to ruin. He allowed his chosen people to cause generational devastation on themselves.

He’s waiting for us. He’s waiting for us to put aside our distractions. Inappropriate behavior.  Unhealthy relationships. Addictions. Anything that leads us away from him.

He’s waiting for us to be more attracted to him than we are to anything else. He’s waiting for us to hunger and thirst for a godly life. No matter the cost. Even if giving up all those other attractions means losing friends. Changing jobs. Renouncing lifestyles. Giving up all earthly desires to follow him. 

He’s waiting. But for how long? How much longer do we have to get right with God? The clock is ticking. His patience won’t last forever. 

Disappointed Again

This person abruptly changed their plans.  Again.  They’re known to do that.  It’s always devastating when it happens.  What I thought would be a peaceful and relaxing afternoon became filled with angst and caution.  I was no longer free to pursue my agenda.  I had to follow theirs.  It would be a long afternoon.

Needless to say, disappointment sat in.  Big time.  Once again, they changed their plans. They didn’t realize that their initial plans fit perfectly into mine.  The change in plans was so disappointing.  I couldn’t even begin to tell them.

I think of the times I’ve disappointed others.  I didn’t attend an event she had planned.  I didn’t eat the food she had prepared.  I couldn’t say the words they wanted to hear.  I said words they never expected to hear me say.  I wasn’t the friend she needed me to be.  I didn’t buy the product they were selling.  I didn’t laugh at the joke.  I laughed when I shouldn’t have.  The list is much longer.  Longer than I care to admit.

I have been disappointed with God.  Yes, I have.  At times when I had asked for specific help, I was let down.  Help that only God could give.  When everything I prayed for happened opposite of how I had prayed.  Why didn’t God come through when I needed him the most?  Why didn’t he protect me from the hardships that kept piling on top of each other?  Where was he?  Couldn’t he see that I was doing my best?  Was this a test?  Would I still trust him when the hardships had ended?  Would the hardships end?


So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18


I consider all the things God has done for me.

He asked his only son to die on a cross for me. He suffered.  A lot.  He paid a huge price for my sins.

When I asked God to forgive my sins, he did it.  He knew my sins before they happened and he still forgave me.  When he saw I was sorry for my sins, he forgave me without a second thought.  The best part is that he forgot about those sins.  It’s as if I had never sinned.  That’s how great God is.

God has provided for all my needs.  I have a home.  A job.  Plenty of food.  Good health.  Loving husband.  Great friends.  Wonderful family.  There’s nothing I need.

I have made it through those hardships.  God provided strength to get through them.  He showed mercy when I needed it most.

God has created beauty in this world.  Nature.  Seasons.  Galaxies.  Animals.  Architecture.  Music.  Art.  Books.

God is preparing a place for me to live with him.  He’s getting it ready for me.  I’ve read that it’s out of this world.  So full of beauty.  And some of my loved ones are already there.

How can I be disappointed in a God who did all that for me?  How can I be disappointed in a God how loves me deeply no matter what I do?  How can I be disappointed in a God who is so patient with me?

I remember an old hymn that speaks to my soul.

Christ Is Not A Disappointment
I have found no satisfaction in the fleeting joys of earth 
I had hewn me broken cisterns that had mocked me by their dearth 
All the springs my soul had tested failed to meet my deepest need 
Christ, alone, has met my longing, He has satisfied indeed! 

Chorus 
Christ is not a disappointment! Every longing in my breast 
Finds, in Him, complete fulfillment, He has brought me into rest 
I have tested Him, and proved Him more than all I dreamed He’d be 
Christ is not a disappointment, He is all in all to me! 

I was tempted not to trust Him for so many things had failed 
But so patiently He waited and His tenderness prevailed 
So, I swung my heart’s door open, and His promises I tried 
Christ is not a disappointment, He has fully satisfied! 

I had tried the world for pleasure, but it could not satisfy. 
Though it promised much, it failed me. All its wells and springs were dry… 
Everything I tried was empty, and I thought my life was vain, 
Then, He came and tuned my heartstrings, 
And I learned to sing again. 

Others will fail me.  I will fail others.  Hardships will come.  Hardships will go.  The sun will rise on a tough day.  The sun will set on a beautiful day.  Through the ups and downs of life, I have found it to be true.  Christ is not a disappointment.