Missions

September 9, 2022

Our church has started a prayer program of praying for a different country each week. We hear about the country and its struggles and the facts regarding the population and the percent that has not heard the gospel message. So for a week the congregation prays that Gods word and helping hands will be a reality for them.

I am involved in a ministry called Pioneer Bible Translators.The organization sends biblically trained ministry teams throught the world to make contact with people groups in the different countries. The organizations mission is to make disciples through bible translation. Currently Pioneer Bible has translated the bible in 13 languages in 28 countries.

As a reminder, Jesus commanded his disciples (us) to to make disciples of all nations. He was referring to peoples, tribes and languages. There are approximately 17,000 people groups (groups that share a common language and culture). Another category is called the unreached. That equtes to 7,000 people groups. These are among those that are unknown and the church has not sufficiently been able to reach them. It is estimated that out of 7.75 billion people in the world today, over 3 billion are unreached. That means that they would have never heard of the saving Grace of Jesus Christ all their life. What is to become of them?…you answer that.

Let us not forget that in addition to being spiritually hungry many in these countries are physically hungry. Not only do missionairies work to preach and translate the Gospel but they help the tribes to be growers of produce to eat an sell. Other missionaries are there to help tribe members start a business in order to be able to buy the necessities. There are many organizations in addition to the one mentioned above that work in country to provide for the people One I am acquainted with is Samaritans Purse a program of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In addition Doctors Without Borders provide medical teams to these groups and tribes.

I urge you, in your local church, to find out if you have an active missions committee which will connect with any organization that has it’s mission to help those in foreign countries.. Like I said earlier, we are called to make disciples of all nations. But in order to do that we first must show the love of Christ in our lives by giving those we meet “a cup of cold water”. Then they might see our love for them.. God Bless you all…Amen

Do You Know A Skeptic?

August 3, 2022

Lets talk about skeptics.. first we need to define the word: Webster defines it as “a person who doubts or questions”

Before we envision a skeptic as a negative person, we need to understand how skeptics work in our society. In Western Philosophy , skepticism has been identified since the 5th century. The tradions has persisted among great thinkers in modern use. It is doubting what has been presented at face value without any substantial evidence.

Let us now get in context. The church has not always been a safe place for people who doubt or ask questions. A majority of the population believe in God and most believe that Jesus exists however there are barriers to people having a complete view of God and Jesus. One barrier that is familar to us all is people reconciling faith and science .They need empirical proof before they believe. Another barrier is that people admire Jesus and what he taught and how he healed the people but they cannot accept his Divinity. another barrier is that people have no relationship to Christ through prayer .In addition some people have deep-seated instincts when it comes to responding to Christians and or the Church.

I am now going to take a different tack. Lets take a look at some biblical examples of what I am trying to say; Peter stepped out of the boat in to the water to walk to Jesus in great faith .However when the waves and the wind came up he began to sink. Peter in his skepticism knew that he couldn’t walk by himself and he cried “Jesus, save me!” We know of doubting Thomas . He was skeptical that Jesus had really been nailed to a cross and was now alive. But when Jesus said to him put your finger in my side and look at the holes in my hands and feet, Thomas cried, “My Lord and My God!”

As a pastor. I have delt with many “skeptics”, but you know what, some of those skeptics were a boost to my ministry. To be challenged , to be questioned helped me solidify in my mind the direction that I thought the church should go. We dropped some plans and institued others because we had to examine those ideas in light of being questioned by some members of the congregation.

By encouraging Christians toward an honest faith, protecting the vulnetable and cultivationg empathy, skeptical people helped the Church to live as God intended. Jesus draws near to those who doubt, so we can too. Amen

Making plans

July 5, 2022

Oh we think we are in control of our lives. We soon discover that we cannot plan the next day or the next month without having to alter our plans because “life gets in the way”. It isn’t supposed to be that way. The Lords desire is to fill us with peace that guides our changing circumstances.

We can face the future as we “see” the Lord. Of course we cannot actually see God, but there are places were we can observe the Lord and be guided by His peace. The first is the Word. In this world there are many concepts of what the Lord is like and what He teaches. But any view if the Lord that is not supported by scripture is dangerous becaus it is not the truth. God gives us His Word to reveal himself to us.

The second way to see God is through His Son. Every time we read about Jesus in the Gospels, we gain a greater understanding of the Heavenly Father through Christ’s words and actions.

The third way we see God is through eyes of faith. We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7) Even though Jesus taught with wisdom and performed many miracles, many rejected Him. However some who heard him said, “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8)

When our hearts are pure through our confession of sins and living a lifestyle of obedience, our conscience is clear and our minds are spiritually sensitive and discerning. We will be able to filter our experiences through the mind of Christ who has given us the Holy Spirit. With that awareness life’s uncertainties lose their power to make us fearful. …we can trust God for tomorrow

This month we celebrate Indepence Day and the liberty we have in this country. As wonderful as it is, God has something greater for His people., freedom from stress and worry aboutr the uncertainties of life. We cannot control what happens but we can trust the God who holds the future. Amen

The Little Things

June 2, 2022

This month I am unashamedly going to use material written by others. I can’t even give credit to the author. The piece is is not credited. But it spoke to me loudly.

“I used to refer to myself as a white crayon in the coloring box of life. There are all of these other beautiful colors to be put to good use. But the white crayon just kind of sits there and tends to get overlooked. That’s exactly how I felt, just merely existing and not serving any kind of purpose. And at the time I sort of wasn’t . I felt like I didn’t matter and never would until I did something big–something that everyone would notice. We live in a society where the little things we do often get overlooked and this has a way of making us believe that these things don’t matter. But it is these little things in life that matter. most.

Kindness you may recall the story about a boy who was about to take his life after school one day. As he was walking home, one of the kids from school joined him and walked with him the rest of the way. That boy ultimately decided not to end his life, all because of that simple act of kindness, and that kid from school ended up being best friends. Be kind to every person you meet because you never know what someone is going through. You could be saving someones life and not even know it.

Thoughtfulness My mom recently told me that she regularly writes little notes to her clients–letting them know that she is thinking of them. One client contacted her one day that those notes were a ray of sunshine and that she was keeping all of them in a special box. Being a little light to someon’s life by letting them know you are thinking about them. It only takes a minute to make an impact.

Attention Some of the best interactions I have had are with people who listened more than they talked. At a time in my life when I felt like nothing I was doing was good enough, I’d get real anxious meeting new people and felt uncomfortable talking about myself. One day I met this girl at a restaurant, and even though I knew her but a brief time, I consider her to be one of the nicest pepole I have ever met. Why, because she took time to listen to what I had to say. She was very kind , attentive and non-judgemental. Listening is a lost art–take time to really listen to what people have to say, it could change a life.

Gratitude When someone knows that they are important to you or that they have made a difference in your life, it changes them . Many times we see ourselves differently when someone expresses gratiude toward us. We feel validated and this positive reinforcement is invaluable. I have been on both ends of this stick, and know the powerful effect that simple gratitude has on people -both the giver and the receiver of that gratitude. Let others know that you are grateful for the role they play or played in your life.

Vulnerability When I first started submitting personal stories to on line publications, I had mixed feelings. I looked forward to challenging myself and exploring my passion, but was afraid of the responses I might get due to my limited writing experience and my willingness to be so open and honest about my personal struggles I I have learned that vulnerability is a huge connecting factor. Some of the most intimate relationships start when you are honest and open with others. We are each unique for a reason, so go ahead and be the you that the world needs–be yourself.

I couldn’t have said it better Amen

Who Are We Listening to?

May 9, 2022

I wonder if you have heard this story: There was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing and had no radio and he had trouble with his eyes so he read no newspapers, but he sold good hot dogs. He put up signs on the highway telling how good they were. He stood by the side of the road and cried: “buy a hot dog, mister?” And people bought. He increased his meat and bun orders, he bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.

He finally got his son home from college to help him out. But something happened. His son said “father havent you been listening to the radio? Havent you been reading the newspapers? There is a big depression. The European situration is terrible. The domestic situation is worse” Whereopon the father thought “Well my son has been to college, he reads the newspapers, and he listens to the radio, and he ought to know”

So the father cut down on his meat and bun orders, took down his advertising signs and no longer bothered to stand on the highway to sell his hot dogs. And his hot dog orders fell almost overnight. “You are right son” the father said to the boy, “we certainly are in the middle of a great depression”

How many times are we told in scripture that we are in this world and not of it. How many times are we told to follow the Holy Spirit, to do God’s will . But how many times each day do we listen to the naysayer and follow what the world is telling us and not what God is telling us. This story is a good example of following the world and not what is right and what we are called to do and be. It can be depressing if we listen to the loud clatter of those who would tell us how to think.

Think back, how many times EACH DAY do you listen to and react to what you hear and see in this world. If that is your frame of reference, what a negative stressful life it can be. But I like to think that we, as Christians, and yes I am painting a broad brush, live in the Kingdom and are guided by a God who created us , loves us and wants the best for us.

We don’t have to look far to see the ungliness and evil in this world. The uprising in Ukraine, slaughter in Somolia. But we can also focus on our own backyard. Children held as sex slaves. Fathers that killl their spouses and children. Public figures who seem to have everything, dying of drug and alcohol abuse. Doctors who perscribe medicines to those with influence to keep their business. Pharmacies that dispense more than the perscribed dosage “to do a favor” for the same reason.

So what are we to do, look the other way and say “that is not our problem?” Mayb we can take to the streets to protest what is wrong with our world. Or maybe we do as Jesus commanded his disciples to do, shine our light in the world and bring people to Christ one at a time. By living in the world we are called to feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, cloth the needy, take care of the sick (Matthew 25:34-37)

Jesus said, “enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to distruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” My point is that we cannot save or change everything in the world, but we can influence the person in front of us, the people we meet each and every day. And most important, we can pray for all those who suffer, and yes, for those we may classify as evil. Pray for this world that the Prince of Darkness be defeated. That defeat will come because we have a weapon that cannot be stilled and that is love. The love that God has for all his creation, the love that we have as followers of Christ, that we show in all that we do. We must keep the faith!…Amen

April 4, 2022

This is what it is all about

This month we go from the last weeks of Lent to Easter and Resurrection Sunday, April 17th.

Easter week is so meaningful to me and to so many. Starting with Palm Sunday. We recognize Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the people celebrating as He rode into town on a donkey (he was mocking the Roman Generals – that is another story). Everyone was convinced that He was going to take power and drive the Romans out and become the leader of the people. Of course they got it wrong. Some understood why He came but not even all the disciples were fully aware of His mission.

The next day Jesus went to the temple and saw the people changing money and selling doves for the sacrafice. He drove them all out. The next day Tuesday He went to the temple again and was confronted by the chief priests and elders. They challenged him upon what authority he was doing those things. They left confused as to where he was coming from. Wednesday He and his disciples were preparing for the Passover. He tells many parables at that time.

Thursday was the Passover Feast. Jesus gathered His disciples in the Upper Room And gave them the new Covenant. Then He passed the bread and the cup and said to them “this is my body and blood which will be sacrificed for you and for many” Then He led them to the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed for God to take his burden from him. But in a statement that all of us should live by He said: “Father take this cup from me, yet but not my will but what you will”

Jesus was captured, tried and convicted. The Romans didn’t want anything to do with what would happen to Him so they turned Him over to the crowd. On Friday they nailed Him to a tree to die. He said, again a lesson for all of us: “Father forgive them for they do not know whaat they are doing”. The nineth hour Jesus cried out “Father why have you forsaken me?!” He then said “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” Then he died. He was buried in a borrowd grave.

On Sunday the woman prepared spices and went to the tomb to anoint the body and found that the stone had been rolled away and all that was in the tomb were the buriel clothes. They saw two angels who said why are you looking for Him, He as risen just as he said.

We now celebrate the Risen Christ…Happy Easter. Amen

Filtering the news

March 1, 2022

I know some people that have about decided to not read the newspaper anymore. They say that it is so depressing to read about all the hate, abuse, war, and man’s inhumanity to man. Right now, the news is dominated by Russia’s attacking Ukraine. We need to keep up to date but sometimes I wonder if we should just turn off the tv, not read the newspapers..

I agree that a lot of it is very disturbing if not depressing. The same with the evening news. ..it seems like the local stations must start the news with 3-4 stories that catch our attention (read: burglary, murder fire, auto accidents) After you get through all that, maybe you get some interesting stories about people doing neat things, helping other people or achieving success in an endeavor.

I remember some radio stations that had only “good” news. Unfortunately they didn’t last long. But there are Christan radio and tv stations that have good inspirational programming. But I ask you as I would ask on a telephone surveyor man in the street interviews, who but Christian folk tune into these programs.??

What is wrong with all that you say? Let me set a scenario for you. A man or woman comes home at night after a hard day of work. He or she is tired,, maybe have had a bad day or not. Life is not what they thought it would be. Then they pick up the newspaper or turn on the tv and what do they get? All the bad news. How is that going to help them regroup for the next day’s work and stress… it is not… and every day that this happens they will get more and more discouraged about life.. If they are in the majority, they probably don’t even know about Christian programming,

This is an oversimplification , but I think that those of us who have The Lord and Savior to count on each and every day, who have Christian friends that we can talk to in any situation, just don’t understand the cloud that so many people walk under each and every day. We know that we are in the world but not of it. We know that this is our temporary home and our true home is in eternity.

But Christ said to us that while we are here we are to bring the Good News to people that are of this world. In this space we have talked about ways to do this, but I want to focus on bringing the good news of the wonderful things that people are doing each and every day. The inspirational stories , the feel good stories. And to do it in part through the media. We can call or write our local TV stations and ask them to run more positive programming. You can write letters to the editor of the local newspaper and ask the same thing. Say to them that you will bring stores to them to broadcast or to print.

This is just an idea. A way maybe to help those unknown people who carry a burden around each day. Like I have said, we have talked about different ways to reach the lost and the least, but everything we can do to bring the Good News to hurting people, is another step in carrying out Christs commission to us all. Amen

What would Jesus Think?

February 4, 2022

I wonder what Jesus would think if he looked at the world today? I have read in the last few weeks of 3 instances of spouses killing their partners and the children. We have heard in the news of a man who killed a 17year old boy who was walking to the home where he was staying. We read of young girls being shot for no reason. We read of men who were laid off or fired returning to their place of work and shooting their supervisor and any one else they could before killing themselves. We also saw in the news that a police chief days from retirement, was killed and other officers wounded when they went into a house for a drug arrest.

I know that these things have gone on before. But I ask are people more prone to violence now than 10-20 years ago, or is it more publicized? May I offer the opinion that people today are more insensitive to human life than they used to be.That people who kill other people do not have the remorse you used to see in those who took another life. I see that so many more people are self-absorbed. They have a me first attitude now more than ever.

If that is all true, Why? What are the factors that make people so insensitive to others and to the consequences of their actions? Obviously my take on this is that our society is becoming a society where morals and responsibility are character traits that are not valued. Where can we begin to develop character and responsibility? First in the home ..Parents who demonstrate good citizenship, responsibility, self reliance honesty, will have a positive influence on their children’s lives.

It is like the father tells his son not to lie. The next day the dad decides not to go to work. The phone rings and the son goes to answer it. The dad tells him “if it is my boss tell him I am not here.’ What impression is that on the child? Parents can demonstrate good citizenship when they see that their children go to school, do their homework and do what they are told. I was at my children’s school many years ago. I was in the nurses office (she did phyiscal exams for my clients), talking about an upcoming appointment. A young man came into the office saying that he was sick. The nurse examined him, took his temperature and had him lay down so she could observe him for a little while. After 15-20 minutes when it was clear that he was in no shape to go back to class, she called his mother to come take him home. The mothers answer was “this is school time and he is your responsibility” I was stunned. Here was a mother that didn’t have time to pick up her sick kid. What kind of attitude do you think that boy is going to have as he grows up with that example of love and concern.

Elton Trublood the Quaker Theoogian, writes in his book A Place to Stand, “what we desperately need is the literature of witness in which men who have reached a firm place to stand, are able to tell us the road by which they have come and why it was taken” Dr.Trublood takes the tack that we have something on our hands much more serious than we have ordinarily supposed. “Failure to honor particular moral standards is one thing, rejecting the very idea of a moral standard is another” Even though Dr.Trublood wrote these words many years ago, he certainly touches on a symptom of what is wrong with todays society that has come to a point of not honoring moral standards but not even having them.

Our next and I think the most important positive influence we can have on those we come in contact with, is by our actions as Christians. If people see us being kind, considerate helpful and caring, maybe they will want to emulate our behavior. A while ago I read in China, when a person joins the church, and commits their life to Christ, the change in them is so great that friends and neighbors ask what is different about them. The new Christian then explains their new found relationship with Jesus Christ. What a tool of evangelism –the way we act toward other people.!

We cannot bemoan and just look away what we see in human relationships today. We are called as Parents, educators, leaders to be the kind of persons that those around us want to be like.. if we show that example , if we promote people that have those positive characteristics ,if we encourage our children, friends and neighbors to be better citizens, then we may make a difference that will eventually be felt throughout our nation. Amen

What would Jesus Think?

February 4, 2022

I wonder what Jesus would think if he looked at the world today? I have read in the last few weeks of 3 instances of spouses killing their partners and the children. We have heard in the news of a man who killed a 17year old boy who was walking to the home where he was staying. We read of young girls being shot for no reason. We read of men who were laid off or fired returning to their place of work and shooting their supervisor and any one else they could before killing themselves. We also saw in the news that a police chief days from retirement, was killed and other officers wounded when they went into a house for a drug arrest.

I know that these things have gone on before. But I ask are people more prone to violence now than 10-20 years ago, or is it more publicized? May I offer the opinion that people today are more insensitive to human life than they used to be.That people who kill other people do not have the remorse you used to see in those who took another life. I see that so many more people are self-absorbed. They have a me first attitude now more than ever.

If that is all true, Why? What are the factors that make people so insensitive to others and to the consequences of their actions? Obviously my take on this is that our society is becoming a society where morals and responsibility are character traits that are not valued. Where can we begin to develop character and responsibility? First in the home ..Parents who demonstrate good citizenship, responsibility, self reliance honesty, will have a positive influence on their children’s lives.

It is like the father tells his son not to lie. The next day the dad decides not to go to work. The phone rings and the son goes to answer it. The dad tells him “if it is my boss tell him I am not here.’ What impression is that on the child? Parents can demonstrate good citizenship when they see that their children go to school, do their homework and do what they are told. I was at my children’s school many years ago. I was in the nurses office (she did phyiscal exams for my clients), talking about an upcoming appointment. A young man came into the office saying that he was sick. The nurse examined him, took his temperature and had him lay down so she could observe him for a little while. After 15-20 minutes when it was clear that he was in no shape to go back to class, she called his mother to come take him home. The mothers answer was “this is school time and he is your responsibility” I was stunned. Here was a mother that didn’t have time to pick up her sick kid. What kind of attitude do you think that boy is going to have as he grows up with that example of love and concern.

Elton Trublood the Quaker Theoogian, writes in his book A Place to Stand, “what we desperately need is the literature of witness in which men who have reached a firm place to stand, are able to tell us the road by which they have come and why it was taken” Dr.Trublood takes the tack that we have something on our hands much more serious than we have ordinarily supposed. “Failure to honor particular moral standards is one thing, rejecting the very idea of a moral standard is another” Even though Dr.Trublood wrote these words many years ago, he certainly touches on a symptom of what is wrong with todays society that has come to a point of not honoring moral standards but not even having them.

Our next and I think the most important positive influence we can have on those we come in contact with, is by our actions as Christians. If people see us being kind, considerate helpful and caring, maybe they will want to emulate our behavior. A while ago I read in China, when a person joins the church, and commits their life to Christ, the change in them is so great that friends and neighbors ask what is different about them. The new Christian then explains their new found relationship with Jesus Christ. What a tool of evangelism –the way we act toward other people.!

We cannot bemoan and just look away what we see in human relationships today. We are called as Parents, educators, leaders to be the kind of persons that those around us want to be like.. if we show that example , if we promote people that have those positive characteristics ,if we encourage our children, friends and neighbors to be better citizens, then we may make a difference that will eventually be felt throughout our nation. Amen

A Good New Year Resolution

January 4, 2022

Reflecting on this time of year and the Christmas celebrations just past, and those for whom this last Christmas was not a wonderful one. I called or emailed too many of my friends and acquaintances that went through their first or 2nd Christmas without their spouse or a child. If you know of someone who is going through this time, a note or a phone call just to say I am thinking of you, means a lot. …please hesitate to say, “what can I do” or “how can I help” Your presence or you’re reaching out in an expression of love and concern is the best gift you can give them,

Also, I reflect on the year ahead. We make resolutions to “do better” or to get healthier or to eat right or…..well you get the idea. This reflection brought to mind things that we can say and do in the new year that will make those we meet feel better. Here Goes: Comfort them: is to sooth in a time of grief or fear, Concern, regard for the interest of someone else; Care. an object of our source of worry attention. Try to be a rainbow in some one’s cloud; Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up; Never ruin an apology with an excuse.

It is our relationship with God that makes it possible to hear and understand God’s message. We are born broken. We are mending. The Grace of God is the glue. Grace like water flows to the lowest point; Embrace Christ, don’t let the world influence your walk with the Lord. If he gives us a burden it is either for our own growth or an activity to help someone. Be an encourager; Complement others ; give them your time; pray for them; point them to scripture; fill a need; be forgiving; be a good example

I am sure you can add to the “things to do in the new year”. I just want us to understand that we are here because of the Grace and power of God. We just celebrated Christ coming to earth as a baby. But even now He is saying to us, spread the Good News to all you meet. Be the person that God created you to be, the example to the world that you are a child of God and that you have the characteristics of Jesus. That is the best message you and I can give as we begin the new year in His Grace… Happy New Year,