Thursday, February 25, 2016

India 2016

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for your continued investment into my life and ministry through prayer and sacrificial giving...
 On April 6th, after a full day of work, I will drive two hours to prepare to board an very-early-morning flight which will begin my 14th ministry trip to India!

The lion-share of the trip will be spent leading a medical team into unreached villages in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Kashmir. We will be conducting 2-3 medical camps daily, and then take a train overnight to the next region to minister there, then a train overnight... You get the picture! It is a grueling schedule, but we continue to find it to be the most effective use of our time.

Last year, we traveled into the state of Himachal Pradesh for the first time, where Christians make up only .03% of the population. A highlight: an impromptu medical camp among a gypsy colony that was camped along a river. We dispensed medicine, shared the Gospel, and prayed for scores of hurting gypsy people.

 A bonus of this travel schedule will be connecting with local pastors whom I have met over the years, including “Abdul”. Abdul is targeting Muslim Imams (pastors) in and around his city, and as of last spring he had led five Imams to faith in Christ!

Our ultimate destination will be the city of Srinagar in northern Kashmir, where we will spend several days ministering in overwhelmingly Muslim areas with barely any Christian influence. A dear pastor, “Kelu”, has been a powerful witness in this Himalayan mountain region, converting many Muslims to Christ.

Last year, our visit to this region that was recovering from historic flooding which destroyed numerous villages was God-ordained. Our medical team’s presence opened many doors for Kelu to continue his witness and increase his influence for the Kingdom of God.

Although the terrorism threat is still very active in this northern region of India, going to where the people have never heard the name Jesus and sharing God's love with them is my heartbeat.

I encourage you to pray for our team as we will be breaking new ground and going into new and unreached areas with the love of Jesus.

If you would like to help me financially with this mission trip, click on the "Donate" button on the top right of this page, or you can send a check to: PO Box 2125, Ft. Oglethorpe, GA 30742.

Thank you...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Efficiency to Excellence!

This week as our Leadership Team at my ministry was concluding our weekly meeting, I prayed these words: Lord, help us to be efficient and effective in everything that we do.
Later as I was reflecting on the meeting, those words came back to me, and I felt that I needed to amend my prayer by also asking God to make us excellent.

Taken separately, each word has its place and purpose in an organization. As each person becomes more efficient in their tasks and responsibilities, the organization functions with streamlined effort and maximum productivity.

But limiting functionality to simply doing things right does not leave room for influence, whether it be in personal relationships, within the community in which an organization is placed, or within the culture that we live.

Instead of doing things right (being efficient), we can consider doing the right thing (being effective). This elevates what we do to a much more purposeful endeavor, moving us beyond simply doing what's expected to doing what's important.

If we want to add that additional dimension to both being efficient and effective, we then seek to be excellent: using the tools, energies, creativity and wisdom that we've been given to make what we do the very best. I am not advocating perfectionism, but rather doing things that exceed expectations, including our own.

So whether we are seeking to be efficient: to make things run smooth and get the job done, or we are seeking to be effective: doing the things that will influence those around us, we can always move to the next level by seeking to be excellent!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Making Time, Or Just Making Time

I always seem to make time for what is important in my life. As a younger man I watched a lot of sports on TV, because sports was important to me. I hung-out with the students I worked with because the ego-boost they gave me was important to me. 
As I grew older, I realized that because there is only so much time in my day, and I was crowding out things that ought to be important with things that I considered important.

I couldn't do it all. There simply wasn't enough time. I realized that I was inadvertently prioritizing my life, spending the most time on what I considered most important, and spending the least amount of time on what I considered least important.

If looking at your bank statement spending is a good way to judge your priorities, perhaps we ought to also look at our calendars to judge our priorities. Or if we don't schedule everything, keep an hourly log of what we do everyday for a week. (An employer I worked for recommended I do that with my work days, so I could see what activities were the most productive for me.) The results may be surprising.

Once we do an honest evaluation of how we spend our time, here are some questions to ask ourselves:
  • What do we need to move up the ladder in time-spent to prove it is a higher priority with us?
  • What do we have to move down the ladder in time-spent to prove it is a lower priority with us?
  • Is there anything that we need to begin to spend time doing, because it needs to be a priority with us?
  • Is there anything we need to eliminate because of its diminished priority to us?
Today,  I spend more and more time with my wife, because she is becoming more and more important to me. I spend time running almost every morning, because my health is important to me. I spend time practicing the piano, because leading worship with excellence is important to me. I spend time alone with God in daily personal worship, because my relationship with God is of utmost importance.

I also spend time in meetings and behind-the-scenes work, because the people I work with and the ministry that I am involved in is important to me. I spend time in India, because the Indian people are important to me. Toward the end of her life, I spent more and more time with my Mom (which involved a four-hour drive, each way to visit her) because my Mom was important to me.

Evaluate, prioritize, make changes. It will require honesty and boldness, but oh so worth it. Lead Well!

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Do You Dream?

Do you dream? I’m not referring to the nocturnal musings that occupy our mind while we sleep. I am referring to thinking beyond our present to what could be…
A dream of a better future. A dream for our children’s and grandchildren’s success. A dream of seeing God do a miraculous work in our lives.

I believe that it is good to dream, to envision our future. Dreams keep us thinking beyond our present so we don’t become complacent. Dreams give us hope.

But just laying back and dreaming won't get things done for us. We need to leverage our dreams. We need to make our dreams work for us.

Dreaming gives us a vision of the future. As we visualize the future, we begin to see what needs to be accomplished, what needs to be put into place to fulfill our dreams.

Our dreams push us. They give us purpose. They motivate us. Our dreams light a fire within our hearts that cause us to pursue those very dreams.

Our dreams constantly compel us to keep going, to not be satisfied with the present. Dreaming reminds us that we were designed to fulfill a greater purpose than we might perceive our current circumstances dictate. 

I believe that God wants us to dream. I believe that He desires that we envision a life not just in the “sweet by and by”, but what the future could hold for us in the here and now.

And I believe that God wants to energize our dreams with His power and infuse our dreams with His life. But the key to releasing His power and life into our dreams is to make sure we are dreaming His dreams for us, and envisioning His future for us.

How do we do that? Simply ask God to give us His dreams. Ask Him to envision the future that He has for us. And then ask Him to make it so. Dream Well!

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Pain And The Parking Lot

Last evening my son cooked an amazing yet simple Indian meal of daal and rice, loaded with some of the wonderful spices that I bring back from India. The flavors were rich, the meal was filling, and the company was wonderful!
At one point my son remarked that he wished we had some yogurt to balance out the hot spices. I replied that when I am in India, I usually add fresh buffalo-milk yogurt to my daal if it is too hot for my American palate.

As I reflected on that conversation at dinner, I began to think about our society, and how we’ve become a people who are quick to find something to take the edge off of the things that cause us discomfort. Experiencing pain? Take a pain-killer. Ate too much? Take an antacid. Have to go up a flight of stairs? Take the elevator. Clothes too tight? Buy bigger clothes.

Even in the parking lot of our favorite store we will drive around looking or wait for a parking space near the door, rather than park farther away and walk a few more steps. (Advantages to parking away from the door: The exercise is good for us, less stress than searching for a “better parking space”, less chance of someone dinging our car door because few people park away from the door, we usually make it inside the store quicker than if we sat and waited for a space.)

We do these things to ease our discomfort. But, we forget that pain is our bodies way of warning us. Fever is our bodies way of killing germs. Tight clothes is our bodies way of telling us we are overeating.

The multi-billion dollar drug industry doesn't want us to believe this. The food industry has convinced us that we need to eat what they are selling. Our comfortable lifestyles would have us prefer the easy way, instead of the way that would most benefit us.

May I challenge us to think twice before reaching for the _________ (enter your medication of choice). Evaluate your pain, and do what is necessary to prevent it. Think twice before pushing the elevator button. Consider the benefits of walking up a few stairs. And the next time you pull into a parking lot, choose a space further from the door and enjoy the short walk!

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