Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Practical Lesson for Evangelistic Endeavors

A Practical Lesson for Evangelistic Endeavors

And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you -- Luke 10:7-8; King James Version

Let me relate a couple of stories...

I remember the first time I went to Puerto Rico to serve the Lord I was disappointed that I got to taste very little "authentic Puerto Rican fare" in the food department. I didn't even think about it until I got home and my wife asked me how the food was. The strange thing was that I was so tired and so overwhelmed by the work that I didn't care what I ate. I didn't realize that either until I got home.

The second story comes from
Ukraine. I didn't like the food there. I shared a bed space with Ray Scism (he's a lot hairier than my wife and not nearly as pretty!). I don't like outhouses, and Ukraine has an abundance of them. The streets, where we were, were full of cow-made "land mines". All in all, I love Ukraine! Do you know why? Because, the children flock around you and look at you wide-eyed and eager to hear the Gospel. They hold your hand when you walk and bring you flowers. They smile at you with bright faces, even when they don't understand a word you are saying. They delight in a $.10 bar of ice cream. Because of that I learned to love outhouses, the food, side-stepping "mines" and even snoring beside Ray Scism!

Seeing pain and realizing opportunity sure does a lot in putting one's priorities in focus. In both places the needs and opportunities to minister to PEOPLE overwhelmed every thing that I could have not liked about the locations or the circumstances.

When it comes to mission work and evangelistic endeavors it is indeed about the mission and not about personal preferences, needs and desires.

I've been blessed to participate in a lot of mission and evangelistic work. I have been a complainer at times. God broke me of that. He did through realizing how whiney I sounded. He did it through the simple conviction that I am telling people that God is most important and that He is sufficient for their needs while I am at the same time complaining about stupid, temporal things. I'm glad for His conviction and subsequent healing.

Jesus told the people He commissioned to stay mission focused by reminding them not to complain about their lodging or their food.

There are too many people doing ministry that complain. What representation of God do we give others when we do that?

Furthermore, suppose the host(s) casts a witness into difficult circumstances (intentionally or not) and the witness handles adversity with ease and grace. What does that say of our Lord?

Is the mission about pleasure and comfort or about Christ and Him crucified? Do we use our calling as servants of God to move up or to simply go out? Are we serving God or self? Are we taking the Gospel to the streets or spending our time worrying what part of town the street might lead us to?

The practical lesson here is simple: STAY FOCUSED! In the much read book by Pastor Rick Warren the first line reads: "It's not about you." You know what? Brother Rick was right about that! Whether we eat a burger or a booger is not going to add or take away from the Gospel of Christ. How we respond to what it put before us just might.

Folks, it's about God. It's about His work of salvation and the fact that He offers it to "whosoever believeth" that they may "have everlasting life" (John
3:16; KJV). Let's not worry about circumstances, status, personal preferences, or perceived needs. Let's get out there and stick to what's important. Let's not bounce from place to place looking for a comfortable spot to witness. Let's just get in front of every soul we possibly can. Even if something IS put in front of us we don't prefer I am confident God will give us grace to handle it.

(By the way...if boogers are served, gently proclaim a fast and move on to your prayer closet. C'mon, you know that's funny!)

The Great Provider

The Great Provider

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota…’” (Exodus 16:4a – New King James Version).

There are certain things that I never questioned or thought about as a child. I took it for granted that every time I was hungry, there would be something to eat. I took it for granted that when my shoes became worn, I’d have another pair. Needless to say, I was blessed. The funny thing is rarely did I realize my blessings; rather I always wanted something. One can never take time back, but I sure wish I could. I would go back and be thankful more. I may not have had all I wanted, but I sure had all I needed.

In the Scripture above, God promised to feed His people. The Hebrew people had been freed from the oppressive hand of the Pharaoh. They were out in the wilderness, hungry. What’s God’s answer to their plea? “Sure, no problem, I’ll drop in fresh cuisine every day.” Not only does God drop in fresh food daily, but it was good! It tasted like honey (vs 31). Isn’t God great?

How about the fishes and bread? In John 6, Jesus feeds thousands of people with just a few fish and a bit of bread! In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we eat or what we wear, because God will provide if we just focus on Him. In 2 Kings 3, Israel is at war with Moab; they have no water, so God provides water. Abraham saw God’s character of provision and called Him, Yahweh Yir’eh, which means “The LORD Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14). The list could go on and on. The point is this; God is the great provider. Whether it means stretching what we have as He did with the bread and fish, or not worrying when we don’t have something, or whether God does the miraculous to give us what we need, nothing is outside of His sovereign hand.

Regardless of our circumstance, God will provide. Notice something else, God never provides in partial measure. In each case, God gave enough and at times He provided in ABUNDANCE.

This is something I often take for granted, much like how my parents provided for me. The fact is, however, God is more than good to me. I need to learn to recognize that. I need to praise Him for that. I need to be honest and thank Him often for His grace towards me.

Let us carefully examine all that Yahweh Yir’eh has provided, and reverence Him accordingly. If you are in need right now, be comforted, God will provide. If what you have seems inadequate, lay it in His perfect care and He will stretch it and provide. After all, He IS the Great Provider.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Devotion: Anticipation!


“Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3 – New Living Translation).

Do you remember that sensation of waiting to go somewhere that you really wanted to go when you were a kid? The first time that I can remember going to the county fair we were not going to leave until the afternoon. I almost went crazy! I think that is when I learned to tell time. I awakened early that morning, got dressed, ate breakfast, and was ready to roll before the sun came up. My dad came into the kitchen and looked at me quizzically. He had that, “What’re you doing boy?” look all over his face. I anticipated something big for that day. I was ready to roll hours before it was time. I bet I worried my mom and dad to shreds that day. I remember, distinctly, my mom saying, “Don’t worry honey, we’ll get there.” She was, after all, my always dependable mom, so I was reassured.

Have you ever anticipated something from God? Have you asked things of God and had to wait? It can be tough.

In today’s Scripture, we find David laying his requests before God and waiting “expectantly”. Psalm 5 addresses the evil that surrounds David and his expectation that God will do something about it. David knows his God is good, and knows God’s judgment is righteous. David is sure that God will do something. He, as verse 12 says, is positive that God will “bless the godly…surrounding them with Your shield of love” (NLT). David is confident that God will deal with those who are causing him trouble.

Isn’t confidence a wonderful blessing? Confidence is what I had in my mom, so when she assured me that we were going to make it to the fair; I knew it was a done deal. David had that kind of confidence in God. It carried him far. David awoke in the morning, shared his concerns with the Father and was sure God would act.

There is something more here, however. Look, again, at Psalm 5. Verses 7 and 8 teach us a valuable lesson. Those verses say; “Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; with deepest awe I will worship at your Temple. Lead me in the right path, O LORD, or my enemies will conquer me. Tell me clearly what to do, and show me which way to turn” (NLT). David lifted his requests to God, sure, but then he worshipped God. Knowing God’s holy character, knowing God is proactive, David recognized a need to offer reverence to the Almighty. He didn’t wait to see God do something before he offered praise and worship to Him. David was confident in God, awed by God, and worshipped God for that, not only when he got his way. Furthermore, David asked God to lead him in the way he should go. He knew God would do something, and more than that, knew God would USE HIM to do it. With that in mind, David sought God’s will for His life FOR THAT DAY. Knowing God was going to act; David wanted to join the Father in what He would do and knew he could not face whatever was coming without God’s leading.

Friend, have confidence that God will act for the righteous. Have confidence that God knows how tough anticipation can be. Be sure that He knows your every anxiety. Don’t wait for God to do something to worship Him. He deserves worship simply because He is God. Anticipate His action in and around your life, and ask Him what He’d have YOU do to be a part of it. Anticipate that God will do what is right, but know He’ll do it in His perfect timing. Anticipate fellowship with Him while you wait to see what He will do in your life. Anticipate, but do it in worship and confidence, not anxiety and worry.

YFC Newsletter, Part 1

Just click on the image to see a much larger version.

YFC Newsletter, Part 2

YFC Newsletter, Part 3

Volunteer Newsletter, Part 1

Just CLICK on the IMAGE if you want to see it in a VERY BIG version!

Volunteer Newsletter, Part 2

Volunteer Newsletter, Part 3

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blind to Grace

Blind to Grace

“Therefore he said to his servants, ‘See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.’ So Absalom's servants set the field on fire” (2 Samuel 14:30 – New American Standard Bible).

One of the times I was stopped for speeding, I got some kind of mad! I was mad at the state trooper. I was mad at my truck. I was mad at the road. I was just plain mad! The officer gave me a warning ticket. I WAS STILL MAD! I still can hear the conversation I was having with myself; “Why’d he have to go and ruin my day? Doesn’t this guy know that I have other places to be? Who does he think he is anyway? Here I am, in a rush, not bothering a soul, and he has to go and bug me! What a jerk!” Instead of being relieved at the break I had been given, all I could think of was how unfair it was that I had been stopped.

Absalom and I shared a common problem; we were too focused on ourselves rather than the grace we had been given.

In the Scripture above we, again, visit the life of Absalom. Let’s recap what has happened in his life to this point. He plots to murder his half-brother, and then has it done. He, knowing his wrong, flees. He lives away from his family until a friend of his father’s, Joab, talks King David into absolving Absalom from paying the full price of his crime. He is brought back to Jerusalem, and forgiven. There is, however, one stipulation; his father, King David, says he can come back without fear of prosecution, but his father will not see him face to face. So, here we are, Absalom is not happy about his situation. Who does he take his anger out on? He takes it out on the very person who had helped him; Joab!

Refusing to see the grace that had been given him, refusing to be thankful for the person who had helped him, refusing to move onwards and upwards, refusing to take this new chance and do something different Absalom reacts like a child. He can only see himself and his idea of what is fair and right. It reminds me of the WARNING ticket I was NOT thankful for. WHAAA! I can’t get MY way, so I’ll strike out at the very hand that helped me.

How many times, dear friend, do we do this to God? We know we are wrong. We know grace has been extended to us. We know we should count our blessings. We know all of this, but we shake our fist at God and sing the old Sinatra tune…”I did it my waaayyy!” Or should that be, “I WANT it my way.”

Think for a moment at some of those who have helped you, or have tried to. Be thankful that God has used such people in your life. Be thankful that He sends folks along to shed His grace on us, or point us to His grace. Don’t get mad and burn their fields down. Take stock of these moments. Look carefully at the grace God has gives you and I. Don’t be blind to grace like Absalom and me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Praises and Pleas

Youth for Christ Roxboro May 9, 2007

a time has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and
those who hear will live. John 5.25

Praises: Thank you, Lord, for enabling dead teenagers in our county to hear Your voice. Some are making public declarations for You, some are coming quietly and asking how to be saved, and others want to know how to follow You better (like the teenager that came to Sylvester Tuesday night). Only You are gracious enough to help spiritually rebellious, selfish teenagers suddenly want to listen to You. Thank You for the miracles You are working in individual hearts. Thank You for the two boys who are in reconciliation Bible studies as part of their discipline in being allowed back into the Warehouse.

Pleas: Father, we rejoice when You make dead ears hear, but we ask further that You keep the new ears of Your people sensitive to Your voice. Too often we tune You out because we’re afraid Your agenda will be different from ours. Forgive us when our hearts remain stubborn despite Your grace and love (DW). May our staff, board, and volunteers do You the honor of being still before You, listening carefully to You, and then gratefully carrying out any commands You give. May it be Your will that is worked out at the May 14 board mtg, the May 29 volunteer mtg, the summer staff mtgs. We trust You to help us hear and obey.