Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Chance to Make a Real Difference

This is a long story; epic even. I am going to try to make it brief. If you are close enough to my life to know this person that I'm talking about, please, don't use their name in this very open forum. If you want to know the person's name, I'd rather convey that face to face, and I'd be glad to share more than I am sharing here.

There's this young man; I've known him since he was 9, 10 or 11. He's a neat young man. He was raised by a single mom, and his father has never been in his life. It's been my privilege to stand and act as his father on many occasions, both in the physical and spiritual strength. He's in a fix and I am appealing to giving people to help him.

He's going into his senior year in college this year. Coming from a very poor family, and not being an academic by nature, completing three years of college has been a true and wonderful blessing. Football had been giving him a partial scholarship and student loans have been carrying the rest of his expenses. His grades were suffering from all the requirements of football, so he will forego his senior season and concentrate on finishing strong in the classroom. He's in summer classes, taking extra courses, attempting to raise his GPA. 

He's in financial trouble due to some past decisions / actions and I am appealing to you readers to help out.

Between his senior year of high school and his freshman year of college, this young man had a severe two-day long stupid attack. He went along with some guys who committed several break-ins. He didn't steal, but was rightly guilty by association and presence. It was two-days filled with bad decisions on top of 18 years of keeping his nose clean. It was two days that almost, and still threatens, to wipe away his whole future. He almost lost his opportunity to go to school. Fortunately, though many of his cohorts pulled time, he was given a deferred sentence. He was ordered to indeed go to school (should they still accept him and they did) and to make restitution of goods and damages and to pay court costs. The fees and restitution costs were nearly $10,000.00. 

He's been making payments and some of the debt has been excused. However, he owes $2,065.00 by August 8. If he doesn't pay his defferred sentence will be revoked and he will go to jail. IF I had the money, I'd just write the check. I don't have it. I have a donation.

This young man is a decent young man. He did act stupidly. He was foolish. It was not characteristic of who he is as a person. He loves the Lord, honors his mom and works hard. The pressures of football and school have made earning any real money extremely difficult. He has had temporary work as it was available and has held part-time jobs, but that's been very limited earnings. 

Here's my request and the plan.  He's willing to work it off. He's not lazy. It will be a challenge beause of his schedule, so I am going to give him the flexibility his schedule requires and the accountability his life needs. My request is simple: PLEASE GIVE. Please give by August 1, so we can clearly meet the deadline of his court appearance on August 8. If he's paid this amount and if he's still in school, the sentence deferral will still be in play. I have spoken with the court officials and they are adamant that this amount be paid, but they've been gracious in waving some fees that would have made the amount larger.

I promise to responsibly superintend your gifts. I promise to hold him accountable and make sure he works for the funds. Youth For Christ always needs things done. We'll make sure he works hard and make sure his work takes care of necessary things. I will report giving (amounts, not people) as they come in and I will use this medium to keep everyone updated on the case and his personal progress.

If this young man doesn't get assistance, I really believe he will be locked up. If he's locked up, he will lose momentum to finish school. 

Will you help?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

3 Story Training

Co-Laborers in The Gospel,


This coming Saturday, February 26, Youth For Christ is leading / hosting a very important training for our staff / volunteers called "3 Story" (www.3story.org). This is a great opportunity for any believer who wants to grow in their ability to consistently walk as disciple makers.

We are covering all the costs and we'd like to open to the faith community in our area.

Please feel free to share this with your congregation/church family.

Please respond if your intention is to attend so we'll have an accurate head-count for lunch.

YFC-Volunteers: This training will be offered again August 27.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last Night's Message from East Rock Community Church

http://sermon.net/twbowes/sermonid/2608719

The Core of the Commission

The Core of the Commission

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV)

My grandfather was a great man. No, he didn’t do anything great, in so much that the world would grant him any sort of accolades. He was great because I knew he loved me; without a doubt, he loved me. Our relationship was not perfect, but it was very good.

Everyone called him “Buck,” but I called him “Granddaddy” – pronounced “Grandiddy,” in the very rural northern Piedmont colloquial fashion. Buck loved to hunt. I know he liked to succeed, but I believe it was the actual hunt that he most enjoyed. I loved to be with him. Deer or no, it was him I wanted to spend time with. He loved Walker deer dogs and he loved to hear them “run” deer.

One particular time Buck and I were standing in the edge of a field, on opposite ends, waiting for the dogs to run a deer across our path. The dogs quickly changed directions and Buck jumped in the truck and left; quickly, and without me. A bit dejected, but totally unconcerned, I sat down and waited. A couple of hours later he returned, mumbling something while handing me saltine crackers, a Pepsi and a can of Sardines.

Buck was committed to going after that deer. I’m also glad he was committed to our relationship. I am not sure if I knew the way home.

This is a true story, and I believe it’s a perfect illustration of the condition of most active local churches. Notice, I said active, meaning local bodies of believers who are doing something besides marking off Sundays and Wednesdays with building inhabitation. Active, in most cases, means programs and events and trips. Though it’s all organized, I am afraid we may be settling for less than the true calling God has privileged us to pursue. In other words, it seems our commitment to “go” is strong, but our pursuit of “make disciples” is lacking.

Events aren’t always easy, but they’re always temporary. That’s why we like them. This call to “go” fits right into the groove of events and short term missions and programs. We can heed the “go” part of the Great Commission and do all sorts of things, but the question is are we also pursuing the call to make disciples?

Making disciples is messy, never easy and always requires more commitment than feels natural or comfortable. However, I believe it’s what we are designed for, redeemed for and left here on this planet for. Making disciples is the call, command and commission and we should never settle for anything less.

The difficult part of accepting this assignment is also the blessed part. Namely, the church has to become relationship oriented again. Consider the Garden of Eden; it was only sin that caused Adam and Eve to hide from God. They were designed for fellowship with God, but sin corrupted original design. It not only ruined their relationship with the Lord, but it corrupted their relationship with each other and they felt shame before one another and before God.

Consider the Ten Commandments. As always, The Law reveals the nature of God, but the Ten Commandments show us an outline of relationship too. The first four commandments highlight the right attitudes and actions for our relationship with God.
·        You shall have no other gods before Me
·        You shall not make for yourself any idols
·        You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain
·        Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy
He’s first; nothing else before Him or even as important as He is. Respect Him. Spend time set aside just to honor him. Those are pretty clear expectations for relationship.

The remaining six commandments reveal the most basic guidelines for not blowing relationships with others.
·        Honor your father and mother
·        You shall not murder
·        You shall not commit adultery
·        You shall not steal
·        You shall not bear false testimony against your neighbor
·        You shall not covet
Think about it for a moment; if your friend tries to murder you, it’s probably going to have an effect on your relationship, right? Think through these others; any failure to respect these commands damages relationships.

Further, all the OT laws are extensions of these ten. They all reveal God’s nature and show us His desire for how we should relate to Him and relate to others.

And notice, too, that horizontal relationships, which are people to people in nature, are supplied out of the vertical relationship. Meaning, as we walk with God, He sets us right to minister to those around us.

Discipleship is certainly not only a New Testament phenomenon. It’s always been God’s way. Deuteronomy 6:5 sums up all the Law by commanding people to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” God clearly desires that whatever He says to us sinks beyond the realm of knowing into the reality of being. Deuteronomy 6:6 continues “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” But, God never meant for whatever He was doing in us to simply stay in us. Verse 7 gives us God’s expectation of what we’re to do with what He is saying and what we’re becoming: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

In everything we are hearing and becoming we are to translate to everyone in everything we’re saying and doing.

We know this is difficult. It requires believers to have full-time accountability and full-time activity. It’s a call to a life mission and a lifestyle; to always be in relation to God and to pass that relation on to others.

Many believers are active. Many have the “go” part down pat. Commendation should be gladly given to anyone seeking to serve the Lord. However, let’s not be half-measure people, especially when our half measure is missing the whole point. Going that does not meet the call to make disciples is short-sighted.

A new commitment to pursuing the mission God has given is predicated by a new commitment to pursue the privilege of being a disciple. We walk with God. We are disciples of Jesus. Then, we pass it on. We must be vertically bound and horizontally spent. That’s the only way it will work, because that’s the way God designed discipleship.
 
Jesus told the disciples “all authority has been given to Me.” Big stuff. Important. Jesus had the authority to send, equip and empower. What did He desire to use that authority for? You got it, making disciples. Go, or more accurately, as we’re going along in life, make disciples. Activity is not the call. We have activity just by living. Making disciples is the call of God.

The Apostle John succinctly embodied the core of the mission: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). We proclaim what we’ve seen and heard and know and have experienced so that people might walk with us, and, more importantly, they might walk with Jesus. Disciples bidding others to walk with the Master, and not just with talk, but exemplifying the disciples life as we relate to the Master is the core of the mission.

Where does it start? It starts in the cash register.

In one episode some Pharisees were plotting to “entangle” Jesus in His words (Matthew 25:15). Instead of being entrapped by what His own words, Jesus discipled them. They wanted to know whether it was right to pay taxes to the Roman authorities. In His divine genius, Jesus asked them for a coin and questioned them, asking whose image was on the coin. The Pharisee contingency answered that it was Caesar’s image. Jesus’ replied, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's” (vs. 21). Then, Jesus dropped the hammer and gave us the method by which people are to serve the Lord. He continued by saying, render “…to God the things that are God's” (vs. 21). You all know Genesis 1:26 says “let Us make man in Our image.” We are made in His image. We must render ourselves to God. We are His coinage. We must let Him spend us.

It’s simple. Our lives are not our own (ref: 1 Corinthians 6:20). We are to sent and spent. We are God’s coinage and He desires to invest us in humanity, making disciples, and teaching them to “observe” all that He’s commanded us.

We must continually render ourselves to God, sit at His feet, learn of Him and live the life of an intentional disciple maker. That’s the core of the commission: Disciple Making.

My grandfather was always sitting on go. Whether hunting, working or relaxing. He was always ready to do what needed and should be done. The good thing for me is he was also always sitting on “Come on, go with me” too.

Let’s be careful to adopt this mentality in our relationship with the Lord and others. Let’s sit on go, for sure, but let’s make sure our going is making disciples, not just passing time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Transformation Needed

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9; ESV)

I’ve learned a long time ago not to buy clothes for my wife when she is not with me, though sometimes I’ve forgotten what I’ve learned. I can’t explain it, but I am a sucker for sweaters. I see a sweater that I think my wife will like and I just buy it. Maybe it’s because I love sweaters so much! I have plain sweaters, sweater vests, argyles and even a couple of button-up sweater vests. I even have a pink sweater!

What I have learned is my wife does not need, want, desire, request, require or appreciate my tastes in HER clothing. Don’t get me wrong, she’s always polite. She’s kept several, like souvenirs, but she’s worn none of them! This doesn’t even mention the shirts and shoes I presume to pick out for her. Here’s the deal: she has different tastes than I do. Point blank. End of story. I give up. (Until I see another sweater!)

God’s thoughts and ways are vastly different from our own. I don’t imagine many of us need convincing of these fact.

Our tendency is to make God very human, very like us. He’s not. Not even close. However, God calls us to be like Him (ref: Leviticus 11:44 & 1 Peter 1:16). How can it be that God would desire us to be like Him when we know we are so very different from Him? Simple: God desires spiritual transformation for us. Further, God empowers spiritual formation in us!

For that to even begin, we must be “born again,” meaning we must have a spiritual rebirth (John 3). We must be born from above, birthed again to new life in Christ, having died to self and come alive by faith in Christ and the quickening of the Holy Spirit. With that new life comes God’s promise to keep on completing what He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

The promises of what that will look like are incredibly encouraging:
  • A new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Power for living (John 15:1-5)
  • Service like Jesus, and more (John 14:20)
  • Unchained from the power of sin (Romans 6:1-14)
  • Fellowship with the Living God (Hebrews 11:6)

Of course, there’s more! Since God’s ways are so far from our own, we need spiritual transformation to experience Him. Since these wonderful promises are not attainable by the work of our own power, we need a miracle! That’s what being “born again” is! It’s a miracle!

People surrendering to God in Christ Jesus receive the marvelous help of the Holy Spirit to be born from above into new life with a new nature: TRANSFORMATION!

Too many church people are trying to live a life of religious-do-it-done-it. Wow. That’s not what we’re designed for. We’re designed for fellowship with the Living God. We’re designed to enjoy Him. We’re designed to love God. We’re for life, not just breathing. Sin is a murderous killer, separating us from life, which is in the Living God. It corrupts us thoroughly and spiritual transformation is both the beginning and continuing of healing and restoration.

We will never pursue the things of God in our own nature. We may pursue things we put God’s name on, but they won’t be of Him.

I can’t pick out clothes for my wife. I can’t be like God on my own. I need her help for the clothes. I need God’s help…period. I need God’s help.


Do you desire spiritual transformation? Seek the Lord. He’ll gladly give what He has freely offered.

Introduction to The Warehouse of Youth For Christ Roxboro

Right Attitude and Right Action

If My people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, ESV)

Growing up, “Don't blow at me!” was one of my father's favorite rebuking statements. That's the expression he would use when I'd sigh after one of his commands. I think I used up a lot of oxygen doing that growing up. Dad didn't allow “back-talk.” When I say he didn't allow it, I mean he did not allow it! We learned that lesson very young, and adhered to it strictly our entire life. I can't tell you how many times sighing was my form of calm rebellion. There were probably hundreds of times, working in the tobacco field or the garden, in which Daddy corrected me and I'd sigh and he'd say, “Boy, don't blow at me!”

There is something to be said for doing the right thing with the right attitude. Discovering what is the right thing to do can be hard. Doing it with the right attitude can be even more difficult.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is written to the people of God; people known to be God's people. It's a promise and a warning. God used Solomon to build the Temple. Solomon finished that task and God gave Solomon a dream. The promise was simple: God will forgive and heal. The warning was simple too: But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes...I will pluck you up... (2 Chronicles 7:19ff),

However, and this is our subject for today. Do you notice what conditions and what mechanism God gives to the people? God tells them to pray. Simple, right? Well...

It's not as simple as it sounds. God desires us to seek Him in prayer. That's the right thing to do. Too much prayer involves seeking our own wants and needs and desires. Consider the blunt words of James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you have asked wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Our petitions to the Lord should involve seeking His face, His will, His desires, His plans; it should involve seeking Him. The best way for your prayers to be answered in the affirmative is to pray according to the desires of God.

Not only must we pray according to God's will, but we must also humble ourselves. Certainly, this is not in our nature! Our flesh loves to be exalted. We even think of it as an American right to be full of “swagger” and pride. It's not a Christlike characteristic at all! He even described Himself as lowly and meek (Matthew 11:29). James speaks bluntly on this as well: humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you (4:10). When we push ourselves under the Lord, giving Him honor above ourselves and submitting to His will over our own, we can trust His good providence to lift us in His good time and for His good reason.

Last time, this article addressed God's command to pray for other believers. One of my deepest and most abiding prayers is that the people of God would become serious about humbling ourselves and seeking the Lord's face. We need to turn from our wicked ways and pursue the Lord. We need God to heal our land. Politics and policy won't fix America. Better schools won't fix America. A stronger economy will not heal America. A larger, more effective military force will not fix America. We need God.

Let's not be as foolish youths, “blowing” at authority and going through the motions of the wrong thing with the wrong attitude. My dad wouldn't tolerate it and I am sure our Father will judge it as well! Let us indeed humble ourselves, seek the Lord and pray. It's the right attitude and the right action for approaching our Father.  

Pray for Other Disciples of Jesus

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:15-17, ESV).

One of the most blessed things about working with a ministry that works with many denominations is that I get to work with many denominations! Sounds too simple, doesn't it? When ministry kept me in one denominational arena, I rarely looked out. Sure, our fellowship gathered with local churches from two other denominations each Thanksgiving and with a neighboring church of a different denomination for Resurrection Celebration, but we didn't have a real and regular practice of being together. Though I was passionate about our distinctives I was also often bound by them, kept from fellowship with people who love Jesus too. I'll tell you what I am learning: it's easier to write people off than to pray them up.

If prayer were to become a ministry for believers – notice, “if” – the first place we need to start in praying for other believers! Really. I'm serious.

Now, wait a minute...calm down...I know, I know...someone is already finding ways to exclude others: “I do pray for believers but them people ain't Christians like me!” The problem is that most of them people are saying the same thing about you!

Don't mistake my tongue and cheek method as irreverence. It's not that at all. It's an accusation. One of Jesus' clearest indicators as to whether someone is a disciple of His is whether such a one has love for other disciples. He said, “By this all people will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Uh oh. Some folks are in trouble!

The Apostle Paul was pretty clear about who he was talking to in the letter to the CHURCH at Ephesus. He was writing to the “saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (vs. 1). As a matter of fact, Paul was clear in communicating that all of God's plans and blessings were in Christ. Grab your Bible and consider Ephesians 1:3-15 very carefully, noticing each time it says something like “in Him” or “in Christ.” God's plan is “in Christ” for sure, so for people who understand that much – that God's plan for “things in heaven and things on earth” is united in Christ – I call them Family. When it comes to The Family, I desire to know and love you all.

All that being said, let's get to the ministry of praying for other believers! Perhaps you don't even know if they are believers. Pray the simple words of Ephesians 1:17 for yourself and for them, asking God to give each of you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

Paul said, “For this reason...I do not cease to give thanks for you.” What was his reason? Simple, Paul said his reason was that he'd “... heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints...” Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers because he saw their object of their faith, Jesus Christ, was right and their love for each other was evident. WOW!


Whoever you are out there – Red, yellow, black and white. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, Non-Denominational and all other “Jesus is the only way!” folks you can find. Poor, rich, middle-class. Native American, European, African, Hispanic, Asian. City folks and country people. Southerners, Westerners, Northerners. Whatever distinction you may have that Satan wants to use to separate us. – if your faith is in Jesus and you love other believers, I want you to know I have a ministry of prayer towards you.

Who's with me? If you desire to be known as a disciple of Jesus, love others who love Him. If you love them, pray. Pray by the mighty hand of God that we show the world we are His by our love for one another.

YFC-Roxboro "Praises and Pleas"

Youth for Christ Roxboro
Praises and Pleas
the week of February 13-20, 2011

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:5, 8.

Praises: Thank You, Mighty God, for sending us Sebastian Trivino from Bogota, Colombia’s YFC and for sending him this week with a YFC group from Canada to a YFC group from Honduras. Thank you for our partnership with YFC in Esteli and for the family of 185 YFC chapters in the USA and hundreds of chapters in 120 other countries. Thank You, Loving Father, for the thousands of children and teens here in Person County and for the 5 YFC chapters in NC seeking to reach tens of thousands of teens in a dozen towns and cities. Thank You, Lord of the Harvest, that You send us as laborers into the field. Thank You, Shepherd, that You trust Your sheep to point out the wolves, to have part in the Son’s inheritance and serve You with fear and rejoice in You with trembling. We thank You, Jehovah Jireh, that the call to serve is a privilege.

Pleas: Lord God, we humbly ask, send more laborers into the field. Wake up slumbering believers, and set them free to serve. Equip feeble hands for the work. Give workers directions (vision) for the fields. Give us tools for the work. We trust You, O Lord, to both send us to the work and harvest from our labors.

Monday, January 24, 2011

YFC-Roxboro "Praises and Pleas"

Youth For Chirst Roxboro
Praises and Pleas
the week of January 23-30, 2011

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, He told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell...” Luke 8:4-5a

Praises: Thank You, Mighty God, for calling us from the marketplace into the field. Thank You for giving us opportunity time and time again to serve. Thank You, Father, for continuing to give us crowds and groups and individuals with which to share Your truths. Thank You, Lord, that saints are willing and running to be equipped. You, our God, are the source of our supply, granting us wisdom and resources for the work. You, Jehovah Jireh, are the source of our supply; granting YFC-Roxboro the grace of calling and the strength for its pursuit. Thank You for the opportunity to stand in Your presence and to come in and go out as Your kingdom servants. Thank You, Holy Father, for stooping to know us and for consenting to send us. The fields are white unto harvest; we praise You for the season of work.

Pleas: Our Lord and our God, call more laborers unto the field! Father, whether in our large crowds that gather at The Warehouse or for My Life Matters Club, or our medium-sized crowds that gather for Campus Life or for basketball shoot-arounds, or our small groups that gather for discipleship or our individual meetings with students, make us hardworking and faithful farmers of Your fields. Encourage our hands to be steady on the plow and quick to the seed bag, plowing hearts with our prayers and casting the Word as seeds upon the ground. Make our staff (board, paid and volunteer) willing to cast the seed at every turn. You, Father, judge and prepare the ground. You, Father, are the Lord of the harvest. Make us willing workers of the field. From classrooms, to gyms, to parking lots, to The Warehouse, to back rooms in churches, to Wal-Mart, to every point in between, empower us, Holy Spirit, to go out an sow Your seed. Father, grant Your servants new and fresh desire to become acquainted with the Holy Seed that is Your Word. Make us deft in it's employment, willing to cast it, familiar with is application and ready in season and out to give a reason for the hope that is in us. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Great, Spiritual Expectations

When you give...
And when you pray...
And when you fast...
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much...
(Matthew 6:2, 5,16 and Luke 16:10, ESV)

As parents, my wife and I have tried to instill wise money stewardship in our children's value system. We have three rules of governance for every bit of money they receive, and we expect them to exercise these rules without our badgering. You can walk up to them at any time and ask them “What are the three rules of money?” and they'll just spout off the answers. The rules:
        1. Sacrifice: always put God first. Use the Old Testament standard of tithing and offerings as a discipline and the New Testament standard of liberal giving as there is need, always seeking to discern what the Spirit is saying and doing.
        2. Save: put away at least 10% for your future and more as you have it.
        3. Spend: always take care of needs first; next consider how your spending allows you to honor God with acts of hospitality and helps; then, and only after sacrifice, save and previous spend rules, spend on yourself.


At 10 and 7, I would not say my children have mastered this mentality and discipline, but I must commend them for their general adherence. They truly seem to have caught the spirit and the Spirit of the thing. It's becoming easier and easier to trust my children with money, because they are maturing more and more in how they handle it.

In my last article I talked about the fact that many people want God to give them a specific ministry and / or purpose in life, yet they have not been diligent or opportunistic about God's general will. Today's article is a continuation.

God has spiritual and life expectations for us. Some of these expectations are clearly outlined during part of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount” as found in Matthew 6. Jesus' words are important. He doesn't say “if you give” or “if you pray” or “if you fast.” Sometimes what isn't said is important. In this case, what isn't said is important, and what is said is even more important. The word is “when” in each case. It reveals expectations.

These, like my expectations for my daughters' money management, are just basic expectations. You know there's more.

Jesus was talking to a society that lived religiously. Their culture was religious. Everything about their daily lives, down to eating or not eating certain foods, was religious in nature and consideration. These were “People of the Book” or “People of the Law.” Even their national government was theocratic in practice. Adherence to God's Law was their very lifestyle. Jesus didn't need to preface his comments, explaining what spiritual discipline meant, before He said, “When...”

What I am getting at is simple, if we want to know the specific, we must become committed to the discipline of the expected.

What follows in the economy of God is simple. When we are found faithful in small things, He increases our opportunity. When we are diligent in the revealed will of God, He opens to us the specific.

Do you want big ministry? Big responsibility? Would you like to do important, meaningful things for the Lord? Good. It's good to desire these things! We all must start by working on the simple expectations of God.

Develop a discipline of giving that honors God's revealed will. Develop a discipline of prayer that engages the Lord and is according to His priorities. Develop a discipline of fasting that increases your spiritual potency. It seems the Lord designed us in such a way these things are meant to be normal.

God has for us all great, spiritual expectations! Begin to obey and watch God move!

Youth for Christ Roxboro Praises & Pleas

Youth for Christ Roxboro Praises & Pleas   1/11/11
…that the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Tim 3.17

Praises:   For months now YFCR volunteers have been training and practicing, even getting some public speaking tips, and now, Father God, You routinely help them share confirming testimonies in Saturday Night Chapel @ TheWarehouse.  As a result, teens are seeking out not just YFCR staff, but volunteers, to ask counsel.  And at the same time, Lord,  You have unleashed a new season of trust in Person County youth.   Middle and high schoolers are confessing struggles with temptations, doubts and questions about You, entrusting info about sexual orientation and confusion.  Thank You, Mighty Equipper, for making staff and volunteers not just available, but more than capable, to bring them to Your word for true help.  

Pleas:  Father, please help the students who attended Equipper Camp during Christmas break to keep applying what they learned.  As student leaders, enable them to stand up for You regardless of comments from their peers.  For students struggling with sexual confusion and temptations, we ask for open hearts, ready to receive and obey Jesus.  Please give each staff and volunteer Your wisdom from above as they counsel teens.  Dearest Trainer, we also ask that You enable YFCR board members to employ the training they received this past weekend to do an excellent job for You.  May all be complete for Your glory!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Start Praying

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling (1 Timothy 2:1-8; ESV, emphasis mine).

I grow weary of people lamenting that they don't know what is their special purpose or mission in life. I don't know if every leader faces this, but I make the assumption they do. I cannot count how many people have approached me and said something like, “I'd serve the Lord if knew what He meant for me to do.”

Hogwash. Yes, as insensitive as it seems and sounds, that's what I meant. God doesn't seem to reveal special purpose to people until they have a solid dedication and regular practice of ordinary purpose. Here's just such a case: PRAYER. The Holy Spirit, in God's word, through the Apostle Paul, made it clear that every person everywhere ought to be praying! Let's get to it!

I love this poem:

THE MINISTRY OF PRAYER

There's a holy high vocation,
Needing workers everywhere;
'Tis the highest form of service,
'Tis the ministry of prayer.

None need stand idly longing,
For a place in which to share;
Active service for the Master,
There's always room in prayer.

In these days of tribulation,
Wickedness pervades the air;
And the battles we engage in,
Must be won by fervent prayer.

There's no weapon half so mighty,
As what the intercessors bear;
Nor a broader field of service,
Than the ministry of prayer.

--A. S. Woolworth

Friend, listen, do you want a powerful ministry? Start praying. Do you want God to entrust you with much? Start praying. Do you want to see the hungry fed? Start praying. Do you want to see our nation changed? Start praying. Do you want to see our leaders act more nobly? Start praying. Would you like a more peaceful family? Start praying. Would you love to serve others? Start praying. Would you love to please the Lord? Start praying.

Do you want to see missionaries sent? Do you want a better preacher or pastor? Do you want more disciplined children? Do you want a more loving, attentive spouse? Do you want to see deep change in your own life? Start praying. Start praying. Start praying!

You already pray? Most excellent. Don't let up!

Be thankful. Intercede for others. Talk to God. Listen to God. Pray.

I have no doubt that people desire purpose and it makes sense that we all want to know what it is God has created and sustained us for. I can't answer that for every person. What I can say is this: (1) The Holy Spirit is the key to fulfilling life and fulfilling ministry because He is a believer’s source of fulfillment. (2) If you want God to open up His specific will for you, you must know you must first receive and achieve God's general will.

Start praying.

Youth for Christ Roxboro Praises & Pleas 1/6/11

Youth for Christ Roxboro Praises & Pleas   1/6/11
Jesus: "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."    Mark 1.17

Praises:   Yes, Lord, when we follow, You make many become fishers of men.  YFCR student leaders work with younger children at My Life Matters clubs; church groups attend Equipper Camps to learn to lead intentional lives for You; YFCR volunteers spend hours training to make every game and conversation count; YFCR board members are using this weekend to train to be better YFCR servants; and not only do YFCR staff spend days and nights deliberately loving teens, but Tim speaks in a different pulpit each week and takes discipleship training to YFC Nicaragua this month; in his spare time, Brett fishes for souls on the PCC campus.  Truly, Lord, You have made fishing for men our passion.

Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."       
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish              
that their nets began to break. Luke 5.4,6

Pleas:  Dearest God, You are so patient with us.  Never stop teaching our staff, volunteers, board members, supporters, children and their families as You continually haul us hand over hand toward Yourself.  As we experience You drawing us, make us fish like You.  Lord, in this new year, please direct our nets once again.  Help us find the lost children and hurting families down in deep water where we can’t see.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Things that trip me out...

Maybe this little write-up should be classified under the "Tim Ain't Right, Y'all" category.

Upfront Disclaimer: DO NOT VISIT THE SITE / COMPANY I AM MENTIONING HEREIN. THERE ARE SOME "ADULT" PRODUCTS SOLD BY THIS COMPANY; NO PERSON IS NUDE, BUT THE PRODUCTS FOUND ON THIS SITE MAY OFFEND SOME. YOU ARE WARNED. IF YOU VISIT IT, DO NOT SAY I DID NOT WARN YOU.

Okay...disclaimer done.

So, today we received an unsolicited catalog in the mail from a company called "Carol Wright Gifts."

I thought to myself, Cool, an "old lady" catalog. Uh...well...uh...if old ladies order across the spectrum of this catalog, well...uh...I just don't know what to say.

I had a little time -- you know the kind of time where you don't have enough to do much, but too much to do nothing -- so I plopped down and began to check ol' Carol out. What do you know, I open the first page and there's the most adorable "Kitten Throw." So, I was thinking, $4.99? For realz? Hey, that kitty looks just like Katie's cat. I'm buying that junk! Me and the old lady catalog were off to a rip-roaring start!

Next page: Oh boy...here's where I got super-stoked-shopping-fever. Ol' Carol has the KYMARO Body Shaper. Don't get it? Well, here's what it will do:

  • No more bulges!
  • Smoothes and Slims Hips and Thighs
  • Lifts Buttocks
  • Provides Back Support
I will leave it to you to determine which one I was most excited about. Okay, you guessed it...my booty is sagging and, frankly, I've been a bit concerned. But, hey, no more! I was going to order item #70460 in the "nude" color (so's I couldn't see it when I was getting dressed and would be totally fooled into thinking that I really look that good). You aren't sold? Wait! You just need this bit of info: it's only $39.99. Forget losing weight! I just need this here body shaper!

Two pages. Two exciting purchases. I was becoming afraid to turn the page; cardiac arrest seemed imminent.

I was almost overwhelmed by opportunity.

Plaid robes. Couch and chair covers.  All in one drapery. Low slouch boots. Genuine suede bag. Fucoxanthin Patch (featuring "Around-the-clock Weight Loss With Fat-Burning Batch" -- yep, you guessed it, item #3 in my bag). Weight-loss ring. Floral Shower Curtain (item #4). Denture Liner (item #5). Healthy Hoof Nail Strengthener (it became item #6 the moment I read the info: "when groomers saw what Healthy Hoof did for their horses, they used it on their own nails!" How could I pass that up?)

Wait...there was WAAAAAAY MORE! Electromagnetic Ultrasonic Pest Repeller. HealthMaster "Fruit and Vegetable Emulsifier." No-Spill Strip. 20 cleaning clothes for $7.99. Half-Finger Arthritis Gloves. Damask Chair Cover. The World's Easiest Nut-Cracker (item #7).

Then. Came. Pages. 16 and 17.

If old ladies buy this stuff...

Can I be modest and adult-like and say those two pages are filled with stuff made for people to concentrate on themselves and trust you to understand?

Next two pages: Genuine Leather Credit Card Case. Comfortable Non-Binding Socks. Men's 8-in-1 Groomer. The Back Saver. On and on and on and on it goes...

What?

What the heck?

What the heck-fire?

Why was the catalog aimed at me? Who was it meant for? Who sits around needing this combination of things from a mail order catalog? How do bladder control pills, control tops, canes, robes, nicotine medicine, walking shoes, fat dissolving cream and pages 16 and 17 all go together?

How do inspirational bracelets, escape hammers, shaver sharpener, medical ID bracelets, stainless-steel tea kettles, seat cushions and pages 16 and 17 go together?

How does the "Carol Wright Gifts" shopper go from "Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer" to that.

How can Carol keep a straight face when people call in and ask for the "Floral Quilt-Top Bedspread" and one of those in the same breath?

Wow...

What does this say about people? I need, I need, I need...OOOOO....I want. Are people that lonely? Is this the solution? Is THIS THAT important? Must it be couched between the "Wraparound Bed Ruffle" and buy-one-get-one-free "Platinum Edition Cordless Electric Rechargeable Shave Kit"?  Must it be wedged between the things people use to put their socks on when they can't bend over and the self setting alarm clock? If you can't set your alarm or put on your socks, how...???

No, Tim, don't pursue these answers.


So, it made me think of a passage. 


2 Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of selflovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (emphasis mine; English Standard Version)


You might not "get" what I'm talking about, and, IF you don't, I pray it's because of godly 

naïveté. If that is the cause, rock on. 


Carol might be selling to old ladies. She might be selling to young men. To whomever she's selling, they're buying more than they bargained for! I put my mentally-carted items away and prepared the catalog for recycling (and a good joke). 

Anybody interested in a lightly-looked-upon catalog?