Just A Thought #22

LEAN ON ME (The Trust Game)

Did you ever play Trust growing up? The game may have been called something else where you lived or when you grew up, but the basic premise is you close your eyes, fold your arms and fall backwards, trusting your friends to catch you. How many of you peeked? How many stumbled backwards, afraid to totally let go? I did both. I could never truly trust my friends would catch me. It's not that I didn't have great friends because I did. It was because people let you down. I didn't want to be the one "let down" during the game!

Sadly, I have sometimes treated God the same way as I did my friends . God says in His Word that He can supply ALL of our needs according to His riches in Glory. Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Do I lean backwards and trust God to do it? Unfortunately not always. I am more like Yes, but God, I need "X", surely you can't do that, surely you want me to solve this my way It is too big/little of a problem for you to care/notice.

I recognize now it goes back to an issue of faith. Do I trust God to be EVERYTHING I need. Is He really going to catch me if I fall. Can I trust Him for a physical, emotional, spiritual healing? Surely He would want me on meds for depression, exhaustion, emotional imbalance! Wait, He can meet ALL my needs. Yes but....(all a but is saying is that God can't do the impossible!)....Either He is God, the God of the impossible or He is a liar....which would you rather call Him? I want to trust Him. I fail sometimes but I am striving to TRUST God completely. My prayer has become that found in Mark 9:24 "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Just A Thought


Raising the Standard

I found myself thinking about the 10 commandments today. Now understand this is not something I think about regularly. I don't have them posted on my screen saver and don't whip them out of my wallet every time I meet someone .

No, it just seems that the world is going down hill fast. Today while sitting in a meeting my mind drifted. Happens sometimes. Today I was thinking about those laws Moses brought down from the mountain top.

God set a standard. Not just with the commandments, but the whole Bible is filled with God's standard for us. Yet today it seems society is trying desperately to lower God's standard. The sad part is the "church" seems to be leading the way!

To many denominations are winking at sins God said were wrong. Things are being ordained from the pulpit that God clearly said were off limits. Why? Why is the "church" compromising?

Instead of lowering God's standards should we not be raising our own? Should we not try to live our lives reflecting God? If God said don't touch why are we out fondling those exact same things? Now is the time to repent! Now is the time to raise up our standards and to turn our lives completely over to the King of Kings.

God's Word is not a book of suggestions. It is filled with standards that if we live by them will produce an abundant and fruitful life.

It's time for the church to hit its knees and repent of the sin of compromise!


The Hummingbird Kid

It was a cool night in mid-May. My wife and I had just returned from the mission field just 2 weeks earlier. I had gone to a friend’s house for a meeting with other members of my church. We were there to discuss how we would follow up on recent converts from a local Billy Graham Evangelistic Association event. I never expected my friend’s daughter to remind me about our relationship with God.

As we sat in the kitchen before the meeting, drinking coffee and talking, I saw the young girl don a pair of gloves, hat and sweater and slip out onto the porch. She walked up to a hummingbird feeder, which was located on a deck off of the kitchen. What I saw after that left me amazed. I have loved hummingbirds since I was a child. I always thought they were so interesting and they remind me of the beauty of God’s creation. Maybe this is why the scene impacted me so much.

She reached the feeder and put a hand on either side of it. She then became completely still as a half dozen hummingbirds immediately flew up around her, with one getting mere inches from her face. They rested on her hand and were trying to get nectar from the buttons of her sweater. She did not blink or fidget as they buzzed around her head.

Her mother told us how the birds tend to walk up and down her hand when she doesn’t wear gloves. She then said how her daughter has mentioned that when she closes her eyes and listens that she can tell the difference between the male and females hummingbirds by their sound. Not by sight but by sound!

I was amazed. I went home that evening and told my wife and her parents, who we were staying with at the time, what I had seen. I have never seen this kind of interaction before between hummingbirds and people. As I was falling to sleep that night I was reflecting on the beauty of God’s creation and then it hit me. I saw a parallel between my friend’s daughter listening to the hummingbirds and a Christian listening for the Lord’s voice. I was reminded of 1 kings 19:11 –13, which talks about the Lord coming in a gentle whisper. Reflecting on this scripture I thought about how this little girl remained so still at the feeder and just listened to the sounds of the hummingbirds. This is exactly what we, as Christians, should be doing in our quiet times with God. Instead of coming to Him with a list of requests and saying amen, we need to take the time to be silent and listen to His voice. The Bible says we will know His voice. (John 10:4) We can only know it if we take time to listen.

I am glad I saw the “hummingbird kid” that day. God used her to teach me more about His character. I don’t know if hummingbirds will always fascinate her as she grows up but I am glad they did on that day. We accomplished a lot at this meeting but I think God taught me a whole lot more about Himself as well


Remember The One

(I wrote this article and it was previously published in World Christian magazine Volume 13, Number 3 September 2000, under the title Remember One)

A crowd or an individual? Does it make a difference? Does one person matter? Even though this issue has been discussed for a number of years, I still see a tendency on the mission field and in evangelism in general, to focus on numbers. We live in a result-oriented society, and I believe that mindset has crept into our ministry. The gauge for successful evangelism is often “how many people accepted Christ?” As a missionary in Croatia, I saw this trend emerge in some of the churches there as well. But we are missing the big picture.

In the New Testament, Jesus taught many large crowds, but what is most recorded is how He transformed individual lives. Whether it was a physical healing or speaking to the needs of the heart, His greatest emphasis was on the individual. He focused on each person’s needs and gave of Himself to meet them. If we look at the women at the well or even Nicodemus, Jesus met them in their place of need and brought them into a relationship with Himself. It was these people who spread the word to the masses, who then came out to see Him for themselves. Jesus did not ignore large assemblies of people, but His focus always turned to the individual in need.

The ministry of Jesus should be our model. We should be prayerfully looking for that one person whose life can be transformed by the power of the gospel. There are many hurting people who will get lost in the crowds if we don’t allow God to use us to seek them out for His kingdom. This is why building relationships is so essential in evangelism.

One of the greatest resources I have found to understand our role in evangelism is the Engel Scale. The scale evaluates a person’s openness to the gospel giving it a value of –10 (atheist) to –1 (ready to accept Christ). The goal believers aim for is to see a person move one step at a time up the scale until they understand Christ’s sacrifice for them and are ready to accept His gift of salvation. It is easier for someone to go from an awareness of personal need (-3) to accepting Christ, than it is to get a person with no effective knowledge of Christianity (-9) to accept Christ. When we focus on helping a person to the next step, we will find that smaller steps forward are easier and come faster than big leaps.

This principle applies for after conversion as well. After someone comes to Christ, they move up the scale in knowledge, love and a growing relationship with Him. The process of discipleship becomes so important. When we walk alongside young believers, we can help them grow at a pace tailored just for them. Paul modeled this with Timothy.

My wife and I have seen it succeed on the mission field in one particular church in Zagreb, Croatia. Whether it was studying the Bible, meeting physical needs or just giving prayer support, we walked beside many in the congregation offering them encouragement and instruction. We saw them gradually grow in their love for God. When we left Croatia, the entire congregation came out to say goodbye. They told us how they were blessed through the relationships we had established with them.

God has used these relationships to spark further growth. Before we left, I talked to a pastor about restarting pastors prayer breakfasts that had fallen into disarray when the focus of the meetings turned from a time of prayer to a time of boasting about each church’s accomplishments and growth. The meetings had stopped for almost a year. I encouraged the pastor to begin the meetings again, and I attended the first few to support his efforts. The focus not only returned to praying for individual pastors in their work, but also resulted in the churches cooperating to advance the kingdom. After I returned to North America, I heard that these meetings lead to citywide worship services. I say this to challenge each of us to turn our focus to investing in individual lives.

We may never know how reaching out to one person might influence future generations. We should remember the one who gave us the example of ministering to the individual. By imitating Christ in this way we can rest assured that while we may not see large numbers of converts, we will see firmly rooted believers who will spread their faith to others. Is it more important to have 100 firmly rooted Christians, or 5,000 people respond to an alter call but never grow in their relationship with God? Jesus reached the multitudes by reaching out to one person at a time. Shouldn’t we follow His example?


Just A Thought #21

Jesus the Storyteller

As I read through the Gospels I see Jesus always attracting large crowds and telling them stories while also healing their hurts. He used stories to lead people to the Father. The Bible is filled with incredible stories about God. From Creation to the Resurrection, the Flood to Acts there are stories everywhere that just need to be shared. People never seem to remember the points of a sermon 3 weeks after it is preached, but most don't forget the stories.

It doesn't matter if you work with kids, teens or adults, people love a good story. The challenge is to be a good storyteller. Today's generation needs to know the Truth in a clear, understandable way. The Bible is exciting. God is exciting! Let's share the excitement! Let's tell God's story to this generation.

It is way too easy to push the younger generation off to the side, to preach to the "adults". Yet Jesus said that we should come to Him as little children. Mat 18:3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Statistics prove that those who come to Christ, the majority do so before the age of 18! Yet too often our messages are geared to the over 21 crowd!

I want to challenge you.....tell the story....the story of God.

Just A Thought