Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving Appeals in Class

This is for Amaris' sake :) (I did post that poem, too, Amie)

The following is a pretty straight transcription of the appeal I gave in Gaining Decisions class today. Our assignment was to give a 3 minute appeal to the class, stating our topic (on which we would have preached a sermon in all of our imaginations), and then using an appeal text, story, and making an appeal or call.

I really want to praise God for this, because last night I wrestled with the assignment all evening and seemed to come up with nothing (or too many things). So I went to bed with nothing written down and a thousand thoughts flying through my head. In the morning, during my devotions, I prayed about it, and still couldn't stop thinking about what I should do. I was praying about two specific stories to use, and two different angles to approach the topic of salvation from (it had also taken forever to know which topic to do). I tried telling the two stories that morning, and there was no way that I could tell one of them, the personal one, in 1.5 minutes. I felt that it was the kind of story that needed time to sink in by describing the nuances of what was going on. The other story was simple and straight to the point.

Finally, at lunch, I sat down, prayed, and asked God to lead me. I only had about an hour (we have a nice 2-hour lunch break, so we don't fall asleep in class -- yes, they did even told us that), and I just gave it to Him. This is what came together. Because I have never really given an appeal before, and had just learned how to do it in class the past two days, I wrote out the appeal/call section at the end. (For those of you who know me, I have taken to not really writing out much of what I share up front any more. Just notes in point form, and if there are a few exact phrases that need to be said, I'll write those too.)

Class time came, and we all went upstairs to the area where we always have worship. This is because there is a piano there, and one of our fellow classmates who is awesome at the piano was volunteered to give background music for the appeals. We learned in class that you should always have music (only if you have a good pianist) for appeals, because it helps reach into the heart. It helped us all too, to be in that "appeal mode." It would have been hard otherwise, having not heard the entire sermon beforehand.

As time went on, I began to wonder if I really should have used the other story, because it was more personal. It bothered me more and more, and I prayed about it as I listened to the others give their appeals (we drew names out of a hat). My turn came, and I got up, still praying and wondering, and as I set up my computer I told the class "Sorry, I'm having second thoughts about the one I chose. I was going to do a different one."

While they laughed, I continued to pray. I had come to realize by now that every time I share up front, somehow, God brings me to the place where I feel unprepared -- and I have to trust completely and unequivocally in Him. In times past, He has changed the message less than an hour before, or a day before. Once, He added part (not all) of the punchline during Sabbath School before I shared for the church service. Often, I never have an ending written out -- I have to trust that the message is in my heart and that God will speak His word through me. The last time, I felt totally unprepared and only had a skeleton of notes. Each time, God has taught me to trust more and more in Him and less and less in myself when I speak up front. And for those of you who have heard my testimony or read my identity paper, you'll know this lesson is essential.

So I kept praying, "Lord, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to do the other story, even though I have nothing written out for it at all?" I knew that it could be a possibility. I gave it completely to God.

But He finally said, "Just go for it. Use what you have, and trust Me."

(All of that took about 3 seconds, by the way. Don't you just love our hotline to heaven?)

And so I did. Afterwards, when I thought about it, I could see that God had once again brought me to the place of trusting Him and not myself -- not by feeling unprepared, but by completely giving what I had prepared to Him. I knew that He had helped me prepare it, but I also knew that He could completely change the message on the spot, too. So I let Him choose.

I'm finally starting to understand more fully what God meant in Jeremiah 1:17: "Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you" (NKJV, emphasis supplied). I knew it somehow described a balance between preparation under God's guidance and speaking God's words, including preparation of the heart, but now it means so much more to me. Now I really have experienced this verse. Praise God! I'm so thankful.

So, here it is. I transcribed it from my recording of our class today. Generally, a new line indicates when there was a considerable space in my flow of speech. The appeal, though it was written out, was not always word for word with my notes. Jay Rosario, our teacher, gave tips once in a while between appeals, which slightly changed my delivery. I pray you'll be blessed, and all the glory goes to God.


My topic is Salvation [remember to imagine that the sermon has already been preached]

[piano starts playing]
Our last verse tonight will be Romans 6:23:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I had a friend, who lives in Iceland, and I heard a story once. He was a little boy, and his friend invited him over for a birthday party. And he was really excited. So, he went to the store, and he bought him the perfect gift: it was a toy car. And he was very excited, and he wrapped up the gift, and he put it on the table in his house, and it was just, it was just sitting there, waiting for the day. Then the day came for the party, so he took the gift and he walked to his friend’s house, and he was excited because he saw other people also going to this party, and he was excited to spend time with his friend, celebrating his birthday.

And he got to the door

and he knocked.

And, the mother opened the door, and she said, “Oh, you brought a gift for my son. I’ll take that. Thank you, but we never invited you to the party.” And with that, she slammed the door in his face.

And he stood there, speechless.

He was sad

and disappointed,

and his hope of spending time with his friend was dashed, and he turned around and walked away.

Jesus is standing at your door, holding the gift of eternal life and forgiveness for your sin.

For those of us here who have already accepted this gift of salvation, I have a question to ask you.

How many of us have taken the gift, but slammed the door in Jesus’ face?

Too often we want to be saved so we can have eternal life, but Jesus in my heart? In my life? Sure, Jesus, I’ll accept your gift so I can live and go to heaven, but you’re not coming in—I never invited you.

And we slam the door in His face.

But He is our Friend. He wants to come in and spend time with us. He doesn’t just want to give us the gift. He wants to celebrate the joys of life; He wants to be with us in trial, for He went through the greatest trial so we could have that privilege.

Friends, will you slam the door in Jesus’ face today? Or will you let Him come in—bringing not only the gift, but Himself? What would keep you from fully inviting Him into your life?

Maybe you’re afraid of what changes might happen.


maybe this love is just,

it’s, it’s too hard to grapple with, but it’s simple:

How could you shut out the one who gave up His own life for you? Will you slam the door in His face?

Even if you have never accepted this gift before, or, or if you have,

and you want to respond to God’s infinite sacrifice of love for you again today,

and accept not only the gift, but also the Giver,

into your heart, and into your life today,

would you please stand with me.

Let’s pray.


  1. Beautiful. Thank you for posting! :D

  2. I totally empathize with what you talked about at the beginning. Relying on God while talking up front is something that I've been learning for a while now, and He does ALWAYS make me feel unworthy or unprepared so that I fully rely on Him. I wish I could have heard you present it! Sometimes I could just imagine your expression or the gesture you might make to give emphasis to a point. I miss you, Val!


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