Wednesday, March 30, 2016

India 2016... The Countdown Continues!

In barely over one week I will be boarding a very-early-morning flight which will begin my 14th ministry trip to India! Here is an example of our ministry:
This morning I received a message from Dhiraj (pictured above helping with medicine distribution), an Indian pastor who serves as my main translator when we travel into the cities and villages in central and northwest India. Over the last three years, Dhiraj has become an invaluable asset to our team with his command of the language and dialects, and his unique insight into the cultures where we minister.

Last year, while conducting an impromptu medical camp among a band of gypsies camped along a river, one of the gypsy men brought his wife and his new bride to me, asking for prayer: that the first wife would accept the new wife. The first wife wasn't able to conceive, and the man married a second wife so he could have children. (Imagine the look that must have been on my face!) I immediately turned to Dhiraj and asked him to provide insight on how I should speak and pray. He wisely suggested that I simply ask for harmony in the home, and to bless the family. No more, no less. Dhiraj is a wise man.

The message I received this morning from Dhiraj said that I will be leading a one-day Pastor's and Leader's Conference in his home city located in the Indian state of Maharashtra on Spiritual and Numerical Growth. This is such a privilege for me, as I have been given the awesome responsibility of investing into the lives of leaders who will be shaping their cultures with the Gospel.

I do not take this responsibility lightly. May I speak with passion, conviction, clarity, and compassion. May my heartbeat and spirit, and God's Presence speak louder than my words.

And that will be only one of 16 days in the fast-moving, extremely challenging, yet oh so rewarding ministry in India! Pray for me and my brother-in-law, Dr. Pat Kennedy who will be accompanying the medical team as we go out into unreached villages with medical help, the Gospel, and the love of Jesus.

If you would like to help me with financial support, as I am still needing to cover some expenses, please click the "Donate" button on the top-right of this page, or make checks payable to myself, or to First Baptist Church of Fort Oglethorpe. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What Is Your Story?

Everyone has a story. Your story is just as good as mine. And mine is just as good as yours. You see everyone's story is authentic, exclusive, and full of life... Your life.
Some people's stories may seem more exciting than yours. Some people's stories may seem bland compared to others. Some people try to "create" an interesting story for themselves  so they will be memorable.

Some people are great storytellers, spinning elaborate yarns about great adventures in far away places that make what they are telling about come to life. Some people simply tell about what has happened to them, and although it may not enthrall us, it is still a story. And everyone has one.

Everyone has a story, regardless of who they are and where they have been, how they have lived, and who they have met. Sometimes they are real. Sometimes they are imagined. It's these stories that are the basis for books, films, conversations and instruction. Sometimes the telling of stories is the way history is passed from one generation to the next.

Once one of my sons told me to tell him some more of my stories. I received it as a compliment. My life and experiences had found a place in his imagination where as I told the story, he could join me in his mind and live with me in the story.

Another of my sons told me that after hearing all of the stories of my trips to India, he wanted to come with me. And he did. Now he has own stories of India.

What is your story? What has happened in your life? Who have you met? What great adventures have experienced? Remember, everyone has a story.

Perhaps the greatest story you could tell would be about the greatest, life-changing experience or relationship you have ever had. For me it was when I encountered Jesus Christ in my life. Now all of my stories revolve around that one. My wife and children are the other great experiences for me. That's my story.

What is your story?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spiritual Revolution

One person can begin a revolution...
I had the privilege of being a youth pastor for over 20 years, and one of the most meaningful events that occurred during during those years happened on a bus.

My students and I were traveling back from a weekend mission trip in Cincinnati. At one point on the road, one of the middle-school students began to share with me her burden for the other members of the youth ministry, that they would experience the Presence and Power of God in their lives.

Pretty strong stuff for a 7th-grader.

After we talked for a bit, I suggested that we pray her burden, asking God to show Himself strong among the other students. Almost as if she was waiting for permission from me, the young middle-school girl immediately proceeded to get down on her knees on the bus floor, right there amid the trash of a teenage bus trip, began to cry out to God for her fellow students.

I joined her there, and as we prayed an unusual phenomenon took place. Without any prompting from me, other students around us began to kneel and pray. Almost like a fire, the Presence of God spread through the bus, and the students were weeping and wailing, crying out to God in repentance, and asking for His forgiveness and His Presence.

At one point I noticed that the bus was pulling off the road, and I found out that even the driver, who was so affected by that powerful move of God, that he couldn’t safely drive anymore and had to stop. We prayed for hours, and when it was all over it was obvious that God had visited us on that bus.

Our students weren't the same after that. His Presence was among us, His power was strong.

A simple burden for the Power and Presence of God can do great things.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

What Do You See?

When you view an image, what do you see? Do you see the “focal point” of the image? Do you see the setting?
Often when we look at a picture, we may see differently than what another might see while looking at the same picture. It's all about perception and interpretation.

The same may be true when we look at people. When your see a person walking on the street, what is your conclusion: Traveler? Motorist who ran out of gas? Person in need? Homeless person? Someone who needs help or encouragement?

Assume they are homeless. How then do you see that person? As a nuisance or potential threat? As someone in need? As someone who is one break away from "making it”?

Many times when we see people we quickly draw conclusions and make judgements that may not be accurate because we do not know the facts of the situation.

What if someone comes to your worship service looking “different” from the average attendee? What would your thoughts be? He’s disrespectful to dress that way. She could have “fixed herself up” before coming through the door. How dare they…

The next time you see someone and form an opinion about them, ask yourself why you are interpreting him or her in the way you are. Do you see a problem or potential? Do you see beauty or ugliness? Do you see a bother or a blessing? Is this a problem to solve, or an opportunity to serve?

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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Good Old Days!

I have always wondered when "Back in the day" was. One year ago? Five years ago? Twenty years ago?

And then there's "The Good Old Days!" Again, when were those? Is is a time period from the past? Is it the same for everybody? Did I have to actually live during The Good Old Days time period to claim it?

Memories are good, but often we vaguely remember the past as it really was. Our perceptions dim and are altered based on positive or negative memories, as well as positive or negative current situations. This causes our memories of The Good Old Days to become unbalanced and skewed.

Don't get me wrong: Our past is a good thing to have. It serves the purpose of being a starting point in which to measure the present. The past also gives us "anchor events" by which we use as a reference to compare to the "now" in our lives: Our wedding day, our college graduation, the day we committed our life to Christ. These all serve as life-changing events for us, and we can measure our progress from those "anchor event" to the present.

Constantly longing for the The Good Old Days can create within us a negative attitude on life, and begin to render us ineffective.
  • They cause us to live in the past, thus making the present a time we don't take advantage of.
  • They cause us to focus on ourselves, and we miss the opportunities to invest in the lives of others.
  • They cause us to miss what God is doing in the here and now, and miss the opportunity to get in on what He is doing.
May I encourage us to use our memories of The Good Old Days to serve as reference points for us to move forward from. May I challenge us to live in today, and seek ways in which we can impact others, and expand the Kingdom of God.

If you like this post, you can re-post it, ‘share’ it on your Facebook status, ‘Tweet’ it, or forward it to your friends. Follow me on Twitter @bigcloudmusic if you find me interesting. Subscribe to this Blog if you’d like at the top right of the page.

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