Meanderings of a Minister


On The Road Again

As I write this article, I have been home for a couple of days and am preparing to leave on a mission trip to Haiti.  I have been to Tennessee for a week, Children’s Camp in Salina for a week, Phoenix for our denominational convention for a week, and now I will be heading to Haiti for eight days.  I have been amazed to consider what God has taught me at each stage in this journey.  While I am certain that my travels are of no consequence, I hope that the lessons I am learning will be.

First, I took a week’s vacation prior to a very busy Summer.  I am grateful to my church family for allowing us the time off prior to a very busy season of ministry.  Vacations are kind of hard for me because I like to be active for the Kingdom and vacations seem not to be this way.  Having said that, I know that this vacation was necessary prior to so much time away from my family.  Psalm 85:6 says, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”  This time of vacation was a very necessary time of recharging both for me and for my family.  God helped me to understand that part of revival is getting still and allowing Him to work and move while you rest.

Next was Children’s Camp.  At camp, I had the wonderful privilege to pray with many children.  Some to surrender their lives to Christ as Lord and Savior.  I got the chance to love on kids by listening to their stories, watching them conquer fears, and celebrating with them as they shared their gifts and talents in worship of the King.  In the New Living Translation of the Bible, Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  As I reflected on this verse throughout the week, I realized that part of my struggles is that I never feel adequate.  I never feel like I measure up to people’s expectations.  I always feel like I am trying to earn my place at the table with the spiritual giants.  Meditation on this verse helped me to hear God’s voice as He encouraged me to be who He created me to be.  If I live for Him and He lives through me, then I am enough because He sees me as His child.

At our convention, I was blessed to be able to listen to various preachers as they preached through the entire book of Philippians.  One of the messages that really stood out to me, the young preacher said, “The only way for Philippians 1:21 to be true is if Jesus is Who I am living for.  If I am living for anything else, then death takes away what I am living for.  If I am living for Jesus, death brings me to the One I have been living for.”  This really challenged me to ask the question, “What am I living for?”  If I am living for men’s applause, then death with take that from me.  If I am living for family, death will take that from me.  If I am living for fame, power, promotion, retirement, graduation, independence, etc., then death will take those things from me.  If I am living for Jesus and for God’s glory, then death brings that to me.

As I prepare to head off to Haiti, I am also mindful of the scripture that says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  (Proverbs 16:9)  The last three years, I have either had to leave Haiti early to return for urgent ministry needs, or I have been prevented from flying due to weather, problems with the plane, etc.  So, I am planning to go to Haiti.  I have packed.  I have bought my ticket.  I have prepared.  I am planning to go.  But whether or not I go is up to God.  It is His mission to which we go, so it is His will and His plan for whether I get there or not.  Now, if I could just learn this in all areas of life.

So, God uses everyday events to teach us eternal lessons.  This is what Jesus did with parables and how He taught His disciples.  What is He teaching you?



Joy Check Up
May 26, 2017, 2:57 pm
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In 1 John, John wrote to his readers and hearers about how to have joy in the Christian walk.  They were struggling and had forgotten the “good” part of the good news.  They had lost their joy for a number of reasons.  As you read through this list, you might stop and ask if you have lost your joy in serving Jesus for a similar reason.

In 1 John 1:4, John said, “These things we write, so that our joy maybe made complete.”  What was causing his hearers and readers to need their joy to be made complete?  I am glad you asked.

(1 John 1:5-7) First, his readers were struggling with the effects of sin in their lives.  Some struggled with living in sin as a normal way of life.  They may have figured that they were saved and had been forgiven of their sins (which is true), so it did not matter how they lived (which is not true).  As they sinned, the Holy Spirit would not leave them alone, but convicted them of sin to draw them back to God so that they felt no peace or joy.

(1 John 1:8) Others struggled with fearing that they might sin in the future and God might deny them entrance into His presence or His Kingdom.  They thought that they had to be perfect in order to earn God’s forgiveness and love.  Because they lived with this fear each day, there was no joy or peace in their lives because they could never really truly know that they are accepted and included in God’s family.

(1 John 1:10) Still yet others struggled with believing the sin of their past was forgiven.  Every time they looked in the mirror, they remembered the words they had spoken in anger, the money they stole, the promise they had broken or the life they had taken.  Since they remembered it, they figured God did as well and that they would never be free from the guilt and shame that caused them to want to crawl under the table and hide.

In the middle of all of this incredible amount of tension, weight and pressure, John dropped a truth that we often quote, but seldom actually stop and listen to.  What is that truth?

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

You might be tempted to think, “Wait!  What?  That seems too easy!”  It could not be simpler, but it is not easy at all.  This verse is written to believers.  We are told that we need to confess our sins.  What does confess mean?  It means that we need to first agree with God about our sins.  What does God think of our sins?  They are foul, horrible, evil, and in stark opposition and an offense to His holiness and goodness.  They are so foul that they cost the life of His Only Begotten Son.  So, we must agree with Him about our sins and the evil that produces them in us.

We must also agree with Him about the need to turn away from those sins and to trust in God for His forgiveness and grace.  Notice the parts.  First, turn away from the sins.  There is no such thing as confessing sins with any semblance of an intention to continue in them.  Next, we trust in God for His forgiveness.  And then we must trust in God’s grace to carry us through.

So, how is your joy right now?  Is there something that you need to confess to God?  You don’t need to go to a priest or pastor, just talk to God and agree with Him about your sin, turn away from your sin, trust your life to God’s direction and agree with God that His grace is sufficient for your forgiveness and deliverance.  That is way to joy.  At least in the first part of 1 John.



Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health

Don Whitney, in his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, gives the following ten questions as a means of determining if you are growing in your faith, treading water, or actually backsliding:

  1. Do you thirst for God?
  2. Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
  3. Are you more loving?
  4. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?
  5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
  6. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
  7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
  8. Do you still grieve over sin?
  9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
  10. Do you yearn for Heaven and to be with Jesus?[1]

Chances are very good, if you are like most Christians, you have not really spent much time thinking about these things lately.  Whitney suggests that these questions provide a sort of spiritual pulse in the life of a growing believer.  If you answered know to most or all of these questions, you are probably spiritually backslidden, or perhaps not yet a believer.  If you answered no to some of the questions, but not most, you may be seeing the beginning of a spiritual growth problem.  If you answered yes to all of the questions, honestly, then you are growing and are probably relatively healthy.  If you are offended to be asked, you probably have some other issues.

“So what do I do if I am not doing so well in growing spiritually?”  I am glad you asked!  Jesus addressed this in his letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:5 “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.”[2]  The best place for you get help in these and other matters is your local church.  I am not saying you must go to my church in order to grow.  That would be prideful and ridiculous!  But you must attend a Bible-believing church that preaches and teaches and disciples people in the Word of God.  With the holidays on us shortly, what a great time to plug in to a local church and get started making some good habits that could just make this your best year yet!

[1] Donald S. Whitney, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2001.

[2] New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA, 1995.



Anything Repeated Is Worth Remembering

Don't Forget

It seems like I have been in school almost the whole 48 years I have been alive.  My brother is two years older than I and he did not want to learn how to read, write or do math as my grandparents were attempting to prepare him for Kindergarten, so I learned instead.  That began a life of learning in one educational environment or another.  I learned to work jigsaw puzzles at 2.  I learned to read at 3.  I learned numbers and math at 4.  I then attended K-12th grade and went off to college.  I dropped out of college and went on active duty with the Navy where I went to a number of schools there.  I went back to college and got an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in business.  I went on to Seminary and got a master’s and a doctorate in ministry.  I finally went back to Seminary and got a second master’s degree in Church Planting.

Why do I share all of that?  To somehow impress you with my pedigree?  Hardly!  It is simply to layout for you why I know, when learning, anything repeated is worth remembering.  I cannot tell you how many teachers, professors, graduate assistants and administrators have told me that.  Even my Navy instructors told me, “If you hear it once, so what.  If you hear it twice, remember it because it will be on the test!”

What does that have to do with anyone not in school?  I am glad you asked.  Many people struggle with God’s will for their lives, but only because they have not applied this principle.  In Micah 6:8, the prophet, verbally and plenarily inspired by the Holy Spirit, told the people of Israel, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  (Micah 6:8, NASB)  First, in this verse, Micah says that the people have already been told this truth.  Search your concordance and you will not find these words verbatim, but you will find it repeated over and over throughout the Bible in many ways.

First, the Ten Commandments address this concept.  Remember the Ten Commandments?

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol…
  3. You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness.
  10. You shall not covet…

If you look at the pattern, you see that the first four Commandments deal with walking humbly with your God.  The last six deal with doing justice and loving kindness to your neighbor.

Second, Jesus would later say all the law and prophets hang on loving God with all your heart mind soul and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:34-40) Third, a careful study of the Old Testament shows God punished the people when they got either one of these wrong.

What is God’s will for your life?  “To do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”  It is often repeated, you better remember it because it will be on the test.  The first and foremost way to walk humbly with God is to submit to the Lordship of His Son, Jesus.  This requires admitting to Him that you are a sinner and surrendering to His plan of dying on the cross for you.  You must give over control of your life and live out His instructions.  When you give your life to Him, you will have passed the test.  Remember…if you have ever heard this plan before, you have heard it twice now and it WILL be on the test.



If You Can Keep It
July 7, 2016, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Articles, Book Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

If-You-Can-Keep-it-Feature-e1465588198324

Eric Metaxas is a Christian author who specializes in historical biography.  He has written books of Deitrich Bonhoeffer and others who have had a major impact on church, world, and American history.  In his latest book, Metaxas reminded me of an event from our past that has major ramifications for today and certainly needs to be heard today.

In 1787, a woman approached Benjamin Franklin and asked what the founding fathers had given America in terms of a government.  Benjamin Franklin’s answer should be reverberating in our ears today.  He said, “A Republic…if you can keep it.”  What did Franklin mean by that statement?  First, he meant that we have a style of government that is a Democratic Republic.  What is a Democratic Republic?  Good question.  And while it is beyond the scope of a simple and limited newspaper article to exhaustively define it, basically this means that the government, “Of the people, by and the people, and for the people” is the intent and elected representation that then is free to interpret the will of the people and apply it on their behalf is the expression.

What this system was designed to accomplish is a liberty not seen in other parts of the world up to this time.  The people would have the freedom to elect their officials.  They would cast votes and one vote would be one vote.  For many of us who have grown up here, this only seems like the logical choice and is expected, but this is not the way the rest of the world still lives.  Now, many countries have followed our example and there were examples of democracy before us, but none that combined this with a republic style of government and a stated dependence upon God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Once our officials are elected, they are expected to represent the interests of those whom they represent.  Under a republic style of government, these officials are free to interpret those intentions and vote according to their interpretations.  What this was intended to accomplish was to keep from bogging down the system waiting to hear from constituency before a vote can be cast.  With a nation as vast as ours, any other system would be untenable at best or inconsistent with democracy at worst.

Now, what did Benjamin Franklin, a self-professed non-Christian, mean by, “If you can keep it.”?  Quite simply, Franklin knew that this type of system was susceptible to decay from apathy, disruption from enemy, and cooption from deception.  As we pray for our nation, which we should, we should remember these warnings.

Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”  This was God telling the Israelites to pray for Babylon because that was where they had been taken into exile.  If God wanted the Israelites to pray for a corrupt, wicked, evil, and barbarous nation so that they would be blessed, how much more should we pray for our nation?

Would you join me in praying for our nation?  Let’s pray that God would protect us from decay.  That He would protect us from the decay that comes from a people that have grown to expect the blessings God has granted our nation and take it for granted.  The decay that comes when people make the responsibilities that come as a citizen of this great nation the duties of others and think they are only aboard for what they can receive.

Would you pray that God would protect us from the disruption from our enemies?  Some of our enemies are not foreign powers.  Some of our enemies are those who exploit our citizens through financial bondage, chemical bondage, sexual bondage, and spiritual bondage.  Would you pray that those who are trying to lead our nation astray would dry up and blow away?

And would you join me in pray that God would protect us from the cooption from the deceivers that live in our land and who want to take away our liberties.  Those who actively work against the Republic we have been given and want to keep.

There is a group of people who pray for our nation every evening at 8 PM.  Would you set an alarm on your phone, computer, or alarm clock or set up some kind of reminder that will remind you to stop and pray for our nation, for in its welfare you find your own and it just might be the only way we can keep our Republic.

God bless America.