In which there’s a shiny new gospel sharin’ system (p5)

by Craig on November 16, 2011


The father must have scanned the horizon each day…
because it wasn’t the brother who saw the son approach…
or the mom, or a neighbor…
Our Lord says that…

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him…. (Lk 15:20)

Of all the figures that would’ve appeared in the distance, he knew his son, and from “a long way off” recognized him.

And a little known cultural fact – a missing story element…
the father didn’t “gird his loins”…
you always “girded your loins” before running…
if you wanted to keep…well…
everything in place…
if you wanted to preserve some dignity.

But I get from Our Lord’s parable that he didn’t take the time to do this, he just ran, maybe barefoot, and headlong across the fields, not worrying about what others might think.

Maybe my often timid approach to sharing the gospel is because I’m afraid of how others might see me.


But the shiny new gospel sharin’ system (part one is here)takes care of that. Because first I show God’s love, then I ask the critical questions with kindness and mercy and understanding. The asking of the questions is a compliment. Sometimes when we “witness” it’s not a compliment. It’s an attack. No wonder it’s not fun – and people run.

Nobody wants to be the next insignificant notch on someone’s gospel six-shooter.
I’d want someone to show me kindness and mercy and understanding.
I’d want someone to show they care by taking the time to find out what I believe.

That’s why I think it’s best, and most comfortable, to first love, then ask and listen.

And not even get to the big questions…
“are you saved”…
“have you made a commitment”…
“If you died tomorrow…”
until we’ve proven kindness, mercy, and understanding…
and know where they’re spiritually at.

The questions have a design…
so that a person shares what they believe about God…
what they know about spiritual things…
and what they know of the gospel.

And I think it’s important to remember that people are like calculus…


it’s best not to use ink.

And the answers might reveal, for instance….

♥✞ღ Someone who believes in God, but has never touched the Bible, and doesn’t understand the gospel.

♥✞ღ Or someone who doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t think that people need Grace, and has heard – but misunderstood the gospel.

♥✞ღ Or someone who knows things about God, believes in heaven and hell, but has never taken the step of believing the gospel.

♥✞ღ Or maybe someone who believes God to be aloof, and doesn’t think too much about God, and has never heard the gospel.

♥✞ღ Or someone who has made up their own God, and they’re on the fence about heaven and hell, and think the gospel is a game Christians play.

…or a nearly infinite number of variations on the themes.

Their answers pinpoint spiritual location better than a GPS.

They reveal like a merciful, kind, and understanding GPS.

And once our person is located…

only then do we run to meet them, and their needs, and their doubts…

and now…

after we’ve loved, and listened…

it’s time for the letter…


please come back.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Layla Payton November 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

This whole post…wow. For you to write like this, and be so sleep deprived…

…proof you are being help by the Spirit.


Craig November 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm

yeah, I can do pretty much anything for short spurts of time – I just run out of gas. And what you see here is the very edited finished product – you don’t want to see how I start. But thank you Layla, thank you. Plus I’ve learned an awful lot about writing – from all the blogs I read – and not a one written by a man. Wait – there is one – but that’s it ツGod bless you, Layla!


Dawn November 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Dear Craig,

When I wrote about the Prodigal (both son and father), I read this from It’s a bit of a twist on what you wrote above.

In the first century a Middle Eastern man never — never — ran. If he were to run, he would have to hitch up his tunic so he would not trip. If he did this, it would show his bare legs. In that culture, it was humiliating and shameful for a man to show his bare legs.

If a Jewish son lost his inheritance among Gentiles, and then returned home, the community would perform a ceremony, called the kezazah. They would break a large pot in front of him and yell, “You are now cut off from your people!” The community would totally reject him.

The father probably ran in order to get to his son before he entered the village. The father runs — and shames himself — in an effort to get to his son before the community gets to him, so that his son does not experience the shame and humiliation of their taunting and rejection.

The father humiliates himself to save his wasteful, wayward son. Hallelujah! What a picture of my everlasting Father who died in shame for me. How ungod-like, but, how so much-like His extravagant love!



A. November 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Dawn, what you have shared is awesome! I had no idea!!!! Wow! That adds huge depth to what the father did. Enormous. Doesn’t it make you wonder how many other seemingly common things might mean huge things if we only knew….?

Craig, I love your approach…loving and understanding first, questions at some point, final biggie questions only once we have proven our worthiness to even go there with them, and once we know what their ‘questions’ or needs truly are.

To first love, then ask and listen…yes. And I have been told, in response to sharing that view, that ‘this might be the last chance to share with that person…’ In other words, we might not get time to develop a loving relationship with someone, so we ‘have’ to shove a ‘one-size-fits-all’ gospel at them. Tougjh questions. I guess it all takes discernment to know what and when and how much, doesn’t it.


Craig November 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

A. That’s why I have two approaches – one is the elevator pitch – the other is this – for when there’s time and relationship. Although we never know how much time we have – in most cases we pretty much do – I’m just covering most cases. And you called it – discernment. God bless you A. Oh, and are also right – if we only knew…


A. November 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Craig, yes (banging hand to forehead), I forgot about your elevator pitch. You have it covered! :)


Craig November 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Layla Payton November 17, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Dawn…wow!!! I am learning SO much about a “Sunday School” story.

Refreshing. :)


Craig November 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Dawn, so much here that I didn’t know, someone that I knew and have forgotten. All of it. I’m really glad you shared. The hitching up of his tunic – that’s the same thing is girding loins. The added cultural stuff about the son losing his inheritance. And the reason for the father running before the sun entered the village – also awesome. Although I’m a little leary for any of us to say we know exactly why the father ran – the parable doesn’t really tell us exactly why – my thing is just a guess – the parable of leaves it open to that – I hope the source admitted that their “reason” was a guess too. Sometimes I fall into this trap where I say I know something abut a biblical text – but it’s not in the text – I used to do it a lot more – it still sneaks in. We do know this for sure – the son came home – the father ran to him -that’s powerful enough even as is. Do your muttlies know how smart you are? ツ and it’s been too long since I told you I’m really glad that you read me – and I’m really glad that I get a chance to learn from stuff you write. God bless and keep you my friend.


Layla Payton November 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Craig, I totally agree, but we can certainly learn a lot from culture. We’ll never know it “all” until we are with the Teacher, but I do think that He gives us lots of clues/parallels in culture. :)


Craig November 18, 2011 at 11:18 am

absolutely Layla – absolutely – if we don’t know the culture – and can’t read the Bible with the culture of the time in mind – then we lose so much of what is said. It’s just that I think we have to be careful with saying that we “know” the motivations of someone – like Peter said this because – or Jesus said this because – it’s used all the time in preaching – I know I’ve done it myself – and unless we know for certain. We have to say, because of this, and this, and this, I THINK the reason Paul said this was…

That’s it – I’ve just been so arrogant in the past with “knowledge” that I’m more careful about it now – and if you ever, EVER see me saying I know something that I really can’t know for certain – call me on it – because I don’t ever want to be like that again. God bless you Layla – God bless Dawn. I heart all of the stuff I learn in my comment section


Layla Payton November 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Totally agree. Same here. Call me on it, if you ever see it. :)

Dawn November 16, 2011 at 8:17 pm


I thought the same thing about all the steps in Craig’s plan. I think your discernment comment is the key. I want to hear Him, and I think Craig’s plan is best in the day to day, but I want to hear the siren go off if it’s an emergency!!!

Sometimes clueless,


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