God will provide

We have a small team in Haiti. We have been delivering beans and rice.  We brought a bunch of kids blue jeans that we will take to church today for their clothing pantry (whose current stock is just 3 pair of flip flops).  There is another team here staying with us who is building a 15×15 foot home for someone. 

This other team used to come and tell people God loves them, which is true. Then they would ask them to give their lives to Jesus, which is the most important decision one can make. Yet, many Haitians must find it difficult to believe in a God who loves them when their children are starving.  One mother said those exact words to a missionary friend of ours here.  

There is a church here to tell people God loves them. And we can tell the people, too.  But those of us who come to Haiti must do more than tell them.  We must be a part of showing them the God who provides (Jehovah-jireh as Abraham referred to God when he told his son Isaac that God will provide the sacrifice). 

In America, we know the ‘provider’ part of God very well.  Here, they do not.  At home we typically pray for health and safety. Here when we ask them how we can pray for them, they ask us to pray for food, shelter, and education for their children.  They can better believe that God loves them if we show them He does by sharing a little of what he has provided for us. 

“If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is it?” ~ James 2:16

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Something God has never done before

This week I’m part of a mission team helping Greenbrier County WV recover from this past summer’s flooding.  This morning in leading our devotion, David said when he was asking for something in prayer that he heard God say, “you’re asking me for something I’ve never done before”.  David said he was taken by surprise thinking he could have asked for something, and there could be anything, God has not done before.  When you think about all that God has ever done, it is shocking to think there’s anything He has not done before, even though we can quote God in Scripture saying, “Behold, I am doing a new thing…” (Isaiah 43:19).

When David closed in prayer he said, “God, help us to realize today is not an ordinary day…”.  While he didn’t explicitly say it, what I heard when I combined the devotion and the prayer was that ‘today’ was something God has never done before. Today is January 3, 2017 and it is a day God has never done before and will never do again.  And when you think of it that way, you realize there are no ordinary days, even if you’re doing an ordinary thing.  Today is something God is doing that He has never done before. 

*

*

*

*

*

Posted in Opportunity | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A million reasons

img_8501The other day someone said to me, “I can come up with a million reasons” to not do something we were discussing.  I do not know if you have ever done the old side by side list of pros and cons.  You know what I mean – reasons for and against whatever it is.  I have done that list a time or two.  The problem with that kind of list for followers of Jesus is that all items do not carry the same weight.  When the person said they could come up with a million reasons to back out of something, they were implying they could only think of one reason to follow through and do it.  The reason to do it was/is that the person believes God wants them to do it.  And that is what matters.  Everything else will work out if you are in God’s will.

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

 

Posted in Obstacles, Opportunity, Walking the Walk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fake Service Animals & Fake News

fake“Fake news” is a modern buzzword in our society. (I know it’s 2 words).  Web sites will create fake news stories to get people to their site (to gain advertising revenue), and then unsuspecting people will believe the lies and forward the links on social media.   I do not know what the answer is, but I know what the answer is not.  The answer is not to have the government or Facebook decide what is real or “fake”.  That is the first step toward censoring real stories or events that the government or Facebook happens to disagree with.

Fake service animal is not so common a term.  In my younger days “service animals” basically consisted of guide dogs for the blind and  visually impaired. Now they have dogs that can alert a diabetic about blood sugar levels.  It is unbelievable what they can do now.  There was an article in the Detroit Free Press this week about fake service animals.  More and more people are calling their animals (dogs, turkeys, chickens, miniature ponies, etc) “service animals”, even going so far as paying to get online certifications, when in fact they are not.  There are a myriad of reasons people would lie, including to save money, not having anywhere else to leave a pet, and not wanting to place a pet in a crate in the cargo area.  Airlines and other businesses are in a no-win situation worried about bad publicity in trying to deal with the abuses.  People who really need service animals do not appreciate the phonies any more than the businesses do, because an improperly trained animal can give the real service animals a bad reputation.

Another fake in our society is a “fake Gospel”.  Yet the fake Gospel in not new to our society.  Paul warned Timothy about it in 2 Timothy 3: “Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  The enemy of God does not mind if you believe the fake Gospel.  The fake Gospel does not save you.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a term for the fake Gospel calling it “cheap grace”.  He wrote,

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

The true Gospel is costly.  It is my prayer that you are not deceived.  Once again from Bonhoeffer:

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

*

*

*

*

*

Posted in Obstacles, Opportunity | Leave a comment

Satan’s button pushing

Yesterday I read about an 81 year old man in Florida who pleaded no contest and paid $1,000 in fines and costs for a physical attack on another man over a shuffleboard game.  It is pretty easy for us to see the absurdity in this story.  After all, most of us have never played a real game of shuffleboard.  And if we did, we would not place that much importance on it.  The point in even bringing this up in today’s writing is not about shuffleboard.  Today is a reminder that the enemy knows your “shuffleboard” buttons.

You and I have those things that we place way too much importance on.  And while our own mixed up priorities rarely lead to an arrest, they do make us vulnerable when it comes to our walk with Jesus.  Most of the things that distract us from Jesus are not bad things.  We just get it wrong when we place them above Him.  And there is a tempter out there who knows what it is that causes you to stumble and he’s constantly throwing up things to try and trip you up.  To recognize and remember this is of great value when it comes to resisting.

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.… ~ 1 Peter 5:7-9

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

 

Posted in Obstacles | Leave a comment

Failure is not final

A quote from Winston Churchill

A quote from Winston Churchill

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis talks a bit about how God uses our failures to our benefit. Very often, what God first helps us toward is not perfection, but persistence.  Lewis writes, “After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.”  However important any virtue is (honesty, abstinence, courage, work ethic, money management, etc.), the process of recovering from the failures of striving toward those goals can be more important than achieving any of them.  Through our successes and failures “We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.”  The only fatal thing is the complacency of accepting the failures as final.

*

*

*

*

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Every once in a while there appears an awakened soul

img_8466I’ve written on occasion about a spider plant I purchased in 2013 when I arrived in Short Gap.  I wrote about it here, here, here, and here.  This spider plant keeps producing baby spider plants.  I keep snipping the babies off and planting them.  I have literally given hundreds of them away and must have 50-60 more in my office right now.  There must be a dozen on the original spider plant right now, and dozens on some of the former babies that have grown into mature plants in my office.  They all look identical, which is not surprising.  What would be surprising is if one of them grew up to be different than the parent plant.  That would be a surprise.  And none of them have.

Preacher A.W. Tozer, were he still alive, would love my parable of the spider plant replicating itself.  In chapter 3 of his book, Rut, Rot, or Revival, Tozer talks about how the church replicates itself.  And while that could be a good thing, Tozer says the problem with that is nearly all of the people in nearly all of the churches are spiritually asleep.  He’s not saying they are not saved, he says most are saved.  He says they are asleep (think sleep walking).  And he says that these spiritually sleeping people control church affairs, run meetings, read minutes, pass resolutions, set budgets, all while being spiritually asleep.  And the fact they are running the church is not the saddest part.  The saddest part is the young people and new people in a church tend to become like the people who already go to the church.  And Tozer says the sleeping people resent anyone who points this out.

But God….

Tozer writes that “…every once in a while there appears an awakened soul. Some way or another this person got awake. Somehow God Almighty awakened him or her…(and) he or she ceases to be mediocre… and becomes a blazing shining light.”  And this is what Christianity is about: the awakened soul.  Every once in a while God awakens a soul that was asleep.  It’s a sight to behold.  And this is exactly why my wife Diane and I are serving the local church.

*

*

*

*

*

Posted in Obstacles, Walking the Walk | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment