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?

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Give Until It Hurts
July 23, 2015, 2:45 pm
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Give

I have been recently challenged by reading some of the more familiar accounts in the Gospels of Jesus and the way He lived His life.  As I have been reading over some of this, I came across the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.  I realize we all know the story, but perhaps it might be prudent to look at the story again:

Luke 10:30–37 (NASB95)

30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Now, here is what caught me up.  Verse 35 says he used up his supplies to care for the man and then paid for a room in the inn.  After all of that, he stayed the night with the man to make sure he was okay and then the next day, he paid two full days’ wages to make sure that the man would be taken care of.  He also promised to come back and check to make sure he had recovered and pay any additional amount that had accrued for his treatment.

As I read that, I was challenged to ask, “When have I ever given so much that it hurt?”  This man gave much.  Yes, he gave time.  I get that.  I do that.  Yes, he gave concern.  I get that, also.  I do that, also.  Yes, he gave care.  I get that.  I do that.  What I was struggling with was that the Samaritan gave sacrificially.  He interrupted his life to make sure that the man beaten and left for dead could have one.  When have I ever given to the point that my life had to be interrupted?  When have I given financially to the point that I could not do or have something I wanted; let alone, something I needed?  When have I given financially to the point that I had to shut off some of the comforts of my incredibly comfortable life?

As I thought about these things, I went on to ask the same questions about my church, about the rest of us that make up my church, and the rest of Christianity throughout North America.  In the New Testament, this was common.  Paul took up offerings from poor Christians to help other poor Christians.  Barnabas sold his land so that the church could help people.  I have never even done anything even close to that!

So, having felt the sting of conviction, I found myself wanting to justify my inaction by saying, “But the Paul told the Thessalonians, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, that people shouldn’t eat if they don’t work.”  How do I know if my help is enabling them instead of helping them?  I mean, I have to be a good steward of God’s money, right?  While these arguments sound good on the surface, I knew that they were justifications of sin.  James said that when someone knows the good they ought to do and do it not, that is sin.  I was sinning and wanting to seem like I was doing okay.

I have had to repent and have surrendered all I have and own to God and He has tested me just this week to see if I would give until it hurts.  It is not fun on the front end, but he has promised to provide and I am trusting Him to do so.

So…what about you?



What You Do With Your “Free Time” Shows Your Heart

Vacation

As I write this article, I am sitting in a condo at Grand Lake in Northeastern Oklahoma.  We arrived last night and will spend the week here prior to a very busy Summer of ministry that will begin when I return on Friday.  Friday night, our church will host a 5K to raise money for a trip to Haiti we will take later in the month.  On Saturday, I will be at the Harley-Davidson shop to hand out water to the Harley Owners’ Group that will gather in Liberal.  On Sunday, I will preach and then leave for Children’s Camp for the week, return to preach again on the weekend, and then head off to another camp only to return for a week and leave for Haiti.  Because of all of this activity, my family and I decided to take a trip to relax and charge up for the busyness ahead.

So what do we do while on vacation?  Many would say that they would want to just relax and not think about anything and not worry about anything and just make their time about focusing on them and their family.  I understand this sentiment, but I also wonder what it means to truly desire the things that are above and not the things that are here on earth.  What would this look like on vacation?

First, while vacation may be seen as a time to break our normal routine and open up more time for play, relaxation, family, etc., what is we took this opened up “free time” to connect with God more than we normally have time to do?  Jesus said, “No man can serve two master, for he will love the one and hate the other or he will serve the one and eschew the other.” (rough translation).  If Jesus is truly the love of my life and that which I am building my life on, then shouldn’t I WANT to take the extra time to connect with Him?

The extra “free time” of vacation also gives me more of a time to help my family connect with each other and with the Lord.   If vacation is a time just to get away from everything and connect with family, then what am I teaching my family about what is really important in my life?  What am I teaching them about what to set their hearts on?  Is it any wonder that my generation grew up thinking that the ultimate goal of life is retirement and the days of not having to do anything I don’t want to do?  Is it any wonder that, even in the church, people work at teaching, singing, and serving for a time and then want to back away and let others do the work?  Jesus said that we are to work while it is day because the night is coming when no one can work.  Let’s not hasten the night.

Additionally, extra “free time” can be spent, not only connecting me more with Jesus, my family more with Jesus, but could actually be a time when I could prepare myself to have more to pour out to others on vacation and when I return.  A little time spent in more focused reading, prayer, contemplation, or planning, can be time that prepares us to be of more use when we return to the place of ministry God has placed us.  That’s assuming that we believe we have been saved, not just from sin, but to a life lived for Him.

I hope you have a chance to go on vacation or take some time off this Summer, but hope that this time off will be of more value to than just going somewhere to have some fun, make some bills, and return more tired than when you left.  I hope that you are able to Raise Your Gaze to things above…even on vacation.