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Believe: A Letter to West Franklin

Believe: A Letter to West Franklin September 25, 2021
West Franklin Family,
I had an encounter with an eight year old boy this week I hope I remember for a long, long time. This young man was like the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus. His young words to me in my office have multiplied in my mind and heart a hundredfold. His parents set up a meeting because their son expressed interest in baptism. I love these conversations. I love hearing children explain the Gospel. I love seeing tears well up in parents’ eyes as they hear their child speak of Jesus. I always request for at least one parent to be present. They know their child much better than I. They can discern genuine faith drastically better than I ever could. A handful of times it is obvious the child isn’t ready. Having the parent in the room helps.
I did not expect this child to not be ready. I fully anticipated a joy-filled conversation about the Gospel and faith and heaven and baptism. We talked about these things. And the conversation was joyful. But it took a turn I didn’t see coming.
It was obvious this child knew the Gospel. He explained parts to me. I explained parts to him. He had heard of sin. He had heard of heaven and hell. He had heard of Jesus coming to die on a cross. He had heard Jesus was sent to us because of God’s love for us, though we are all sinners. Much of the conversation happened the way it normally does with a child who wants to discuss salvation with the pastor. Then I asked the question I always ask: “Do you believe Jesus did all this?” His response is what I hope I never forget: “I almost do, but not yet. I need to read the Bible more and hopefully I will believe.”
Get this picture. This eight year old boy is sitting in the pastor’s office between his two parents. He is there because he wants to celebrate being a Christian and plan an upcoming baptism. The pastor asked the question. All he had to say was, “Yes, I believe.” We would have rejoiced. We would have set up a baptism. His name would have appeared in our records as a born again baptized believer in Jesus. But he didn’t. He knew in his gut he didn’t yet believe. He knew he wasn’t ready to “go there” yet. He knew he needed to come to terms with some stuff first. Instead of doing what the pastor and his parents wanted and expected him to do, he was remarkably honest.
I. LOVE. THAT.
What he said took guts. What he said took courage. What he said took raw integrity. What he did in that moment was something I haven’t seen any child or adult ever do. I don’t want to put words in his mouth or thoughts in his head that weren’t/aren’t there. But I cannot help but think this young man knew if he said he believed the Gospel and the Jesus of the Bible – it would have enormous implications. It’s as if he knew, more than most of us, that if what the Bible says really is true – then everything changes. Everything.
I shared with him about a man in the Gospels who had a similar struggle and how Jesus helped him believe. I prayed for Jesus to help him believe the same way. I encouraged him to read the book of Mark and ask Jesus to help him believe. He said he would and I believe he will. Obviously, I am not God and cannot read his heart. But I believe this young man is very near the kingdom of heaven. It won’t be long until he finds himself in it.
Why do I share this with you?
To challenge you to be as honest with yourself and your own heart as this little guy was with me. Do YOU believe? Be careful. Be slow to answer. If the Bible is true and God is who He says He is, the implications of this are nothing short of revolutionary. If it’s true, everything changes. And I do mean everything.
Do you believe the Red Sea parted and congealed?
Do you believe the walls of Jericho fell flat at the sound of screams?
Do you believe fire fell from heaven on Mt. Carmel?
Do you really believe God keeps all his promises?
Do you believe three men escaped a furnace without a trace of smoke?
Do you believe a man can survive living in a fish for half a week?
Do you believe God spoke and creation happened?
Do you believe a giant fell by the sling of a rock?
Do you believe a donkey spoke?
Do you believe both manna and quail appeared daily?
Do you believe the Spirit fell during Pentecost?
Do you believe a once dead man is alive and ruling the universe?
Do you believe a murderer converted and started a church planting movement that continues 2,000 years later?
Do you believe a man walked on water?
Do you believe a man was raised after having been dead four days?
I know you know these things. Do you believe them?
I hope I never forget the conversation I had with this young man. His honesty convicted me. Challenged me. Pushed me. Stretched me.
Let’s learn a lesson from him. Let’s be slow (careful) to believe. When belief happens, radical transformation is close behind.
Longing for Faith Like a Child,
Pastor Matt
I’ll see you tomorrow with my Bible open to Mark 4:35-41. We will be wrapping up the “God Is” series with “God is Peace.”
We will also celebrate and observe the Lord’s Supper together in both services. And, good news: we have new bread! (If you were present last time, you will know what I mean . . . yuck!)

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