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I Dropped the Ball

The Pony Express riders were the original mail carriers nearly 200 years. They were a unique group. They were often alone, harassed by Indians, chased by Cowboys and had to weather the harsh heat in summer and bone chilling cold in winter. They were also not paid very well.

It was rare that to find a group of them because they often rode alone. It wasn't that they were arrogant or aloof, but their job kept them constantly working alone. A reporter was able to begin to connect with some of the riders and unbeknownst to the others, asked each one the same questions. To his surprise, he got the same answers from each. The reporter inquired, "Why do you leave family who love you to reach out to folks who don't know you? Why leave the comfort of your own home for an unpredictable and dangerous life? Why endure hostility and harm when you can relax at your house with no threats? Why face uncertain weather and be gone for long periods of time regionally, nationally and globally opposed to maximizing your life locally like everyone else?” With tears, all of the riders, but one said, "The reason is because the message (mail) we are entrusted to carry and deliver is worth it all."

Without a doubt, many in ministry (especially evangelists) can relate to the Pony Riders. Last year, I was invited to return and speak for the second time at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in southwest Florida, one of the richest areas in the U.S. Although it is the oldest Christian Chamber in the country, they really didn't want preaching. I wrestled in my spirit with what they wanted and what I knew they needed. I was torn because while I wanted to honor the group and chairman, I have to honor Christ more. When I got up to speak, I shared snippets from my life and testimony and then went straight to the gospel. While I was preaching, the man who "begged" me not to share the gospel had his arms folded and looked very angry. If he could’ve stopped me, I’m sure he would have, but we both knew I had the audience in the nail-scarred palms of His hands.

The more I lifted up Christ, the less I worried about what anyone thought. I gave a clear, concise and compelling message of the gospel. When I gave the invitation at that secular luncheon, we had 13 adults repent of sin, trust Christ by faith and publicly profess Jesus as Lord and Savior! The place went crazy for Christ. Over 20 people waited to thank me, hug me and shake my hand for having the boldness to preach the gospel. Many were weeping, others asking for additional prayer and some extending invites for me to speak at their church and business. I noticed the man who demanded that I not preach was waiting in line to speak to me. He ended up thanking me for doing what God told me to do. Praise the Lord!

Three months ago, I officiated a childhood friend's mother funeral in Maryland. He called me and said, "Frank, you know I love you and I am a born-again Christian but I got a problem. We are honored you are preaching mom's funeral but my sister is an atheist and just had a nasty, verbal fight with the funeral director last night in making arrangements for the funeral. She does not want any Christian message or representation at the funeral.”

I have always found it interesting that I have never felt obligated to tell a mechanic, lawyer, plumber or cable technician how to do their job, but folks feel compelled to tell the man of God how to handle the greatest message ever told. I prayed, fasted, read God's word and called my pastor for counsel. That day at the funeral, I loved on the folks and lifted up Jesus. We had three souls saved at the funeral and the sister actually thanked me for my message afterwards. In 2004, I saw 66 people dedicate their life to Christ! God is good.

It is easy to share about God’s blessings after winning "Super Bowls," but it’s tempting to fail to share about the loss during pre-season. Recently, I was invited to speak at a Christian banquet and a local businessman asked me to address 200 donors for their camp. The man booked me to speak five days at their summer camp, but he didn’t want me to preach the gospel to the adults. He wanted me to tell a few jokes, introduce myself, give a light challenge and sit down. My heart dropped because as an evangelist we are called to share the Gospel in love but boldness. Just because 200 seniors had "religiously" donated to the camp for years, doesn't mean I can assume that every single soul is saved. He said, "Frank, these folks have heard it all before. We are bringing you in to preach camp later and you will have the chance then but just give a light message and tell us about yourself coupled with jokes.” However, I knew if I started off weak, they might fear that I wouldn't be strong in the middle or end at camp. Secondly, just because I am speaking to their children and grandchildren later, doesn't mean the parents and grandparents are all kids of the King now. The gospel story never gets old. If you are "over the cross," then you are probably not under the blood.

This time, I struck out. I got up, shared a brief testimony of what God means to me and gave a light, 17-minute message on commitment and preached on the feeding of the 5,000. God still blessed the message but for the first time in a long time, I didn't give an invitation for folks to respond to Christ because I was trying to honor the man who invited me. It was horrible. In my heart I honored man, but dishonored God. Never again! Yes, there were still 150 people that wanted to thank me, but the goal is people coming to Him, not me. I was disappointed in myself. The next morning, I preached at a church half hour down the road in another state and 14 souls accepted Christ and nearly 100 flooded the altar with a burden for souls. God was on the move and I felt free after being "stuck in a cage" from the night before.

I recently got a call from the man who booked me for the banquet and he was angry with me. He was upset and scolded me for not preaching passionately like on the videos from my website. He said he was disappointed because I didn't "bring the teat" and considered cancelling me as a speaker for their camp because I was "light" in bringing the Gospel. Wow! The same man who encouraged, demanded and insisted me to not preach powerfully, called me up and called me out professionally for doing exactly what he asked. The main problem was I did what he insisted and not what God instructed me as an evangelist to do. Second, most folks have no clue what they want or what they need. When you realize your role and you are God's man and nobody's boy. You are to lead and not be led. I wish I could tell you I passed that test, but I failed. By God's grace, I passed the first two but I failed the third. God is so much greater than we are and we succeed only by his grace.

In life and ministry, it is imperative that we talk about our setbacks as much as success. Secondly, I have learned a painful but powerful lesson that may help you. Never let a local leader tell you, a global ambassador, how to do your job or preach His Word. Keep in mind that the fear of man is a snare, but God keeps us in perfect peace when our minds are fixed on Him. Don't ever let one individual dictate what God wants to do in the audience. We need to be one with divinity to reach humanity. People need the Lord and may we whom have Him deposited in us distribute Jesus to all we meet. 

Published on by Frank Shelton.