Thursday, September 27, 2007
I am in the final days of my travels. I am sooo. . . looking forward to getting back home to my family, my bed and my church and my motorcycle.
I was looking at one of the reports from a preacher we are helping in Zimbabwe and it was a challenging blessing to me. I hope it will be used to encourage you also.
From Tobias Dube:
"The Lord has been so good to our outreaches. Indeed, He has given us the heathen for our inheritance. We have been conducting some outreaches at a village called Somills. This is a place which has been neglected by the gospel for some years. It is about 250 kilometers from Bulawayo. The actual place is 40 kilometers from the bus stop. No traffic is eligible to the place which contains 6,000 population. The people there are far beyond civilization in that they still put on animals skins. We had to struggle to get to such a place. It took us two days to arrive in the area. We were pressed down, tired and our feet swollen. On our arrival we had to rest for two days. The day came for an outreach to commence which was also difficult because of the resistance of the people, some stoning us with minor injuries. The fifth day the outreach was so good that we had the persistent attendance of 500 people, of which the majority gave their life to the Lord. We had to spend another month so as to disciple the people. Yes indeed, salvation has come to such a place as this one."
The testimony speaks for itself. These guys are the real deal! We often think of heaven as our inheritance but God has given us the joy of birthing children in Christ through the gospel that become part of our inheritance.
Friday, September 21, 2007
1. God did not put angels in charge of the world. (He made the world subject to man.) The Psalmist is really humbled by this. Check out Psalm 8:3-8!
2. The author of Hebrews states a reality when he says, "But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him." Hebrews 2:8 (Speaking of man as he quotes from Psalm 8.)
3. You have to love the "but" in: "But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings." Hebrews 2:9,10
The human, if not divine, predicament is fallen man's inability to rule God's creation. Enter Jesus, who came into the world to do what we could never do (taste death for everyone), so that we could receive what we could never receive. (salvation and glory)
Psalm 8 is a marvelous promise to mankind about God's plans for him, but it is also, as the author of Hebrews applied it, a forecast of the incarnation of God's Son on our behalf.
By the way, who is man that God is mindful of him?
Monday, September 17, 2007
Yesterday, I had a great meeting with Christians from various churches who had travelled to Haiti with me over the years. It was awesome to watch God at work. When I mentioned that we were shipping a grader over to Zambia to build the road to the bible college we are building, a man responded with excitement and said his friend, who is an excellent heavy equipment operator, was just saying he wished he could use his talents on the mission field. When I mentioned my desire to move into Kenya after we get things rolling in Nigeria, another person excitedly told me of some contacts he has in Kenya that he wants to pass along to me. There was a missionary couple there from Johannesburg who said they were available it we ever had to lay over on our way in and out of Africa (that is actually very likely). A doctor who served in Zambia for over 35 years has a daughter still serving there as a nurse. He was excited to learn of our nursing school that is soon to open and believes his daughter could help teach there. (We have been praying for teachers for the school.) God sure has been busy answering our prayers.
It is amazing to realize that God is orchestrating His plans to engage His children in His work. There's a stirring of God taking place and He has called His leaders to "put it all together" as opposed to "trying to make it happen." God is showing me that I need to be sounding the rally trumpet and putting the people to work that He calls to the the rally point.
Dear Lord, as you stir hearts and build you church, give us the wisdom and grace to put it all together so that your name may be glorified.
Off to Harrisonburg, Virginia in the morning, then to York, Pennsylvania. I wonder what the Lord has planned there.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Pulling the team together is critical to maintaining clear movement. It was a great time to re-evaluate problems, do some future casting and confirm individual roles in accomplishing the goal of our mission statement.
I felt the time was calming, encouraging, inspiring and edifying. The way to avoid major problems is to learn to effectively solve smaller problems in an atmosphere of safety and encouragement. It reminded me of when Jesus went apart with His team to clarify what was taking place. Sometimes they did not get it at that particular time but later when the circumstances came to pass, "They remembered that He had said this." John 2:19-22.
It is important to take time to come apart before we fall apart. Even though a football team knows the playbook inside and out, watch how often they go into a huddle. Plan, huddle and execute. Many times we think we only need to plan and execute, assuming that a sum of individual participation will win the game. It is in the huddle that the chemistry is experienced that releases the full potential of the team. To clear all the muddle, take time to huddle.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
On this date, six years ago, America was shocked to find that a handful of men guided by an enemy of America killed over 3000 people in a horrible act of terror. Many have tried to give reasons and identify those responsible in order to make some sense of the day.
I remember sitting in my windowless office on that morning and receiving a phone call that encouraged me to log onto the news. I saw the smoke of the towers rising up against the Manhattan skyline.
My mind, without any thought, immediately raced to a passage of Scripture that cause my heart to pound. Due to space I can't write the whole passage but it bears reading.
Revelation 18:1-20 . . . "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying,' Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon , the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.' And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more; . . . "And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!' Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her."
I seriously thought the day of God's judgment had come! I still marvel at the targets of that horrible day. The center of finance and the center of our military command post. Does it offend God that our might is based upon money and military supremacy. Someday great things on this earth will fall, burn, and end but those whom God has rescued from the curse of sin will shine in His heavenly presence forever and ever. Hallelujah!!
These thoughts have put things in perspective for me this morning. "Rescue the Perishing" is what 9-11 reminds me be about.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
We get talking about strategy, vision, leadership and a host of exciting things but bottom line is, if we are not operating from a motivaton of love we are a big zero in our attempt to be a leader. Matthew 9:36.
Strauch has a little paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 that is a good Saturday morning meditation because Sunday is coming and the REASON we lead will be put to the test. Check this out:
Thursday, September 6, 2007
- Guests coming tomorrow night
- Sister in town. Coming for brunch on Saturday
- Early church on Sunday then off to a Leadership Retreat at Savannah Lakes
- Home on Thursday, get my books, button up loose ends
- Leave Saturday for a three-week, five-state meeting/networking/book promotion trip
- Come home, start community group
- Mission stuff still needs some attention
- Haven't heard back yet from a connect call
- Article to write
- Messages to prepare
- Still waiting for some conformations
- Nigeria needs "stoking" again (giving birth to new ministry strategy)
- The cars, oh yeah, the cars (one to take, one to leave, both with problems)
- Will my hand-off of the Romania Project follow through?
When does it end?
Many times I like to google some quotes when I am grossly engaged in strategy detailing and feel a bit overwhelmed. Before you judge me as unspiritual for not searching the Bible, much of my work today has been engaging the Bible. Sometimes I find little nuggets in quotes from men and women who stumble upon profound thoughts in their pursuit of life. I found one such nugget tonight. Check this out:
"People who join Toyota from other companies, it's a big shift for them. They kind of don't get it for a while. They're moving forward, they're improving, and they're looking for a plateau. As long as you're looking for that plateau, it seems like a constant struggle. It's difficult. If you're looking for a plateau, you're going to be frustrated. There is no 'solution.' Once you realize that it's the process itself--that you're not seeking a plateau--you can relax. Doing the task and doing the task better become one and the same thing. This is what it means to come to work."
John Shook, a former Toyota manufacturing employee, as quoted in Fast Company (December/January 2007)
Whoa! I'm already aiming at getting home on October 2nd. Can't wait. As though after this series of things everything will suddenly stand still. Bingo. With that outlook the journey becomes a task or an obstacle. It becomes the mile markers that separate town A (where I am today) from town B (home again). Those days are something to accomplish and get done not opportunities to grow and serve. Ask my wife and she will tell you I am not one to linger between destinations. I am driven to reach the goal or the plateau.
I think I'll opt for Toyota's outlook and do the task and do it better without looking for a plateau. "We must work the works of Him who sent Me [us], as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work." John 9:4
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
09.05.07 / 8am
Open Doors And Unwise Statements
I have heard it said so many times, heck, I used to say it a lot; in fact, just about every church planter MUST include it in their lingo to sound legit–what is it? It’s the phrase, “We’re not going to be a church for those who are already in church–we want the unchurched coming here, that’s it.” [Said it myself as a church planter.]
Doesn’t that sound good? I think it is a nice statement…and in most cases I think the people who say it are sincere (because most who say it have been burned by the churched!) [In my case it was to let people know we weren't there to compete with churches in the area.] But since being at NewSpring for over seven years now I am beginning to discover the immaturity in saying that we are a church for only a certain demographic of people…and here is why…
I believe that the “churched” in America is quite possibly the largest group of people who need to hear and respond to the Gospel. AND if it was not for churches who begin with the goal of lifting up Jesus then there could be a group of people who are around religion all their lives…but never meet Jesus. [Sad, but so true.]
Just a few weeks ago a lady accepted Christ in our church and said, “I’ve been in church all my life but here at NewSpring is the first time I have ever heard anyone talk about salvation or a need for Jesus.”
Just this past Sunday we baptized four people on stage–two of them were from churched backgrounds and had were “good” people who were actively volunteering every single week here…but the message on Matthew 7:21-23 hit them in the gut…and through it the Holy Spirit revealed that they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.
It ticks me off–BUT–the fact is that there are thousands of churches that are not teaching about sin, about how sin separates us from God, about how Jesus made payment for that sin on the cross and about how, by receiving Christ, He comes to live inside of us to give us an abundant and eternal life. [And they are not all of the typical historically liberal brands either.]
(to see the rest go to: http://www.perrynoble.com/2007/09/05/open-doors-and-unwise-statements )
It is comforting to know that even great men of God who are caught in snapshots in the Scriptures are seen wrestling with their human emotions. Mesech was a place of barbaric wickedness. Kedar refers to nomadic tribes of Arabs that wondered about northwestern Arabia. They dwelt in black hair tents. To "dwell in the tents of Kedar" meant to be cut off from worship of the true God. The irony of this moaning is that God sent His Son to die because of "Mesech" and even in the midst of paganism we are never cut off from worshiping the true God.
When I read, this my mind goes back to yesterday's community group Bible study where we looked at what is called Christ's triumphal entry (Actually it was His triumphal exit. His triumphal entry is yet to come.)
Compare the palmists cry to the cry of our Savior who was about to be crucified, bearing the sins of the world. "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour. "Father, glorify Thy name." John 12:27-28
It's ok to acknowledge the difficulty of the hour as long as we never forget that it is God who works among us to will and to do of His good pleasure. What shall we say? It is our ultimate privilege to say, "Father, glorify your name."
May we have the confidence, contentment, courage, commitment and compassion to make this our testimony. May the world ask, "What is that hope that lies within you?" And may we be prepared to give an answer. "I know God, whom to know is life eternal."
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
NOTE: THE GOAL OF LEADERSHIP AND TRAINING IS TO EQUIP PEOPLE TO SERVE. SERVICE IS WHERE WE MATURE.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
NOTE: MATURITY BRINGS ABOUT STABILITY AND DISCERNMENT.
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
NOTE: COULD IT MEAN THAT LEADERS FUNCTION LIKE OUR JOINTS BY SUPPLYING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY (FITTED AND HELD TOGETHER)?
NOTE: THE PROPER WORKING OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL PART DOESN'T SEEM TO FIT THE 20% DOING THE WORK STATISTIC WE OFTEN HEAR.
NOTE: THE VERSE DOES NOT STOP AT GROWTH BUT GOES ON TO SAY THAT A LOVING, SELF-FEEDING (EDIFYING) CHURCH IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL.
ULTIMATELY A CHURCH'S STRENGTH AND HEALTH COMES FROM ITS DEPENDENCY ON CHRIST AND ONE-ANOTHER NOT THE PASTOR AND A FEW LEADERS. MY ELBOW IS IMPORTANT BUT IT IS ONLY THERE TO HELP MY ARM TO FUNCTION. THUS LEADERSHIP IS IMPORTANT AS IT HELPS OTHERS TO FUNCTION.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
The image is of Christ being in the center of our lives to such a degree that we find balance in every area of our lives. It really doesn't take much to knock me out of balance.
One of the illustrations that brought it home for me was that of a man in our church who was manager of a tire store. One day his friends played a joke on him by clipping a 5 oz wheel weight on the inside of one of his rims. When he went to lunch that day the truck vibrated so much that he could focus on nothing else. Wheel weights are good things. They are used to correct the unavoidable imperfections in every unique wheel. God spin balances our lives everyday and applies His Word to the appropriate areas of our lives. Satan comes along, many times using other agents, to apply improper weighs to our lives through deception. What could be good or helpful is misapplied and knocks us out of balance.
"Lord, spin-balance my life this week and remove the things that are not of You and apply what is needed to balance my life with You."
I know the theological, eschatological and contextual interpretation of the following passage, but bear with me as I make a personal application of the principle of what it means to have the Lamb in the center of your throne.
"For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the CENTER of the [their] throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes. " Revelation 7:15-17 [insert mine]