Archive for May, 2010

I recently read an article online published by Mark Gregston.  Mr. Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and executive director of Heartlight Ministries.  As I read the article about the “Me Generation” I was struck by so much of what was shared by Mr. Gregston. I was struck by Mr Gregston’s comments that “Baby Boomers were so bent on having better relationships with their children than they had with their own parents, they tended to set aside their primary role as parents.  Their desire to be their child’s best friend spawned a self-centered, demanding, ‘Me Generation’ who believes the world revolves around them.”

How did this happen?  We must go back in time.  In the 60’s and 70’s there was a revolution. Millions of “Baby Boomers” fell head over heels toward relationships and feelings of love for all mankind. Our music and lifestyle expressed our desire for universal peace and love.  We swooned to lyrics like “all you need is love.”   There was a “whole lotta’ love” going around.  And we “showered the people we love with love…showing them the way that we feel.”  Then we took our desire for peace, love and affection right into our parenting style.  

Baby boomers as parents focused on maintaining peace and love, at all costs. We determined to have better, stronger relationships with our kids than we had with our parents; carrying out these normally good and healthy desires to an extreme.  Out of financial abundance, we gave our kids everything they ever wanted, and more.  Modern conveniences allowed for more free time and less responsibility.  Soccer moms equipped with minivans shuttled kids from one event or activity to another, with stops at McDonald’s in-between.  We indulged, spoiled and provided too much “stuff” as misguided expressions of our love.

What’s wrong with too much love?  Nothing!  But there is something wrong with it if it is our only focus.  To put it bluntly, placing kids on a pedestal and focusing our lives on them created feelings of entitlement.  Kids began equating our love with our pocket book and our willingness to do things for them.  And they do to this day!  Their thrills in life came from getting new toys, new clothes, new honors, and new excitements. They became demanding, selfish, adrenalin junkies, searching daily for new thrills and more and more “fun.” When the excitement ended or the money train slowed, they became angry. We wanted to be the best parents ever, but the more we focused our attention and our money on our kids, the more they fell into anxiety, depression, and outright defiance. After all, they wouldn’t admit it, but deep down they were terrified for what they would do after they left the comforts and indulgences of home. Does this sound familiar?  Do you have a child like this living in your home right now?

The crux of the matter is that it is hard to be a good parent when our focus is on having peace, love and friendship with our children.  This becomes especially difficult in step-families and some adoptive families.  The crucial role of correcting and holding children accountable is impossible when our overriding concern is to avoid any form of damage to our “friendship.” But what we need to realize is that our children need parents first, not more friends.

So, the big question is this:  How do parents establish their position of authority, while also maintaining their relationship with their child?  In other words, how do we find a proper balance without swinging the pendulum too far the other way?

Tell your teenager…”I desire to stand beside you and walk with you in life…but make no mistake; I will stand in front of you when I need to.”

A simple answer is to say things like “No” and “Maybe” more often; and we need to apply boundaries and consequences when our kids cross over the line.  Balanced parenting is applying strength when needed; and tenderness at the same time.  Hebrews 12 and the Proverbs, chapters 1-13 are perfect for this guidance.   The essence of balance in parenting is to stand beside our children and walk with them through life, while also determining to stand in front of them when we need to stop them from their foolish ways.  

My children know that I am an authority in their life. But that is coupled with acceptance and love. Our goal should be to help our kids get to where they want to be, and keep them from going to a place they really don’t want to end up. But since they are too immature to know any better, we need to remain in control, no matter how upset it makes them temporarily. Then, as they mature in their thinking, the reins can be gradually released. Believe me, your kids will express their appreciation when they are older for holding them in line as teenagers, and they’ll realize that you did it out of love, not to be mean or rigid. In fact, they’ll ask for advice when they have children.  

Scripture describes God as a mighty warrior and a fierce lion.  Scripture also reveals His softer side, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isa 66:13).  One purpose of parenting is to give a child a taste of the character of God, and that means giving them both sides of His character.  

It’s never too late to start being a balanced parent; have a loving relationship, while also holding them responsible.  This is what I’m trying to do!  My children need correction, wisdom, and my willingness to help them travel the path God has for them. They need me to be gentle and loving, but also firm — a clear reflection of both sides of God’s character.

You see, we must not grow weary in doing what is right, (Gal. 6:9), since our first job is to be an authority in our child’s life.  You see, my teen and my three other children need a parent and a friend, but when push comes to shove, they need me to be a parent more.

Read Full Post »

Recently I posted that God speaks in four primary ways:

  1. Circumstances (we call these open doors)
  2. People (family, friends, teachers, pastors, etc.)
  3. Prayer
  4. Word of God (The Bible)

 I shared that  most people focus on the last two because they are easy and we “rubber stamp” the third one (prayer) and ask God to bless our decision while neglecting the fourth one (The Word of God-the Bible) because it’s hard.  We trust in “open doors” and to the advice of their “friends.”

Yet we must realize God wants to speak to us individually.  Just like He spoke to Moses at the burning bush, Paul on the Road to Damascus and to the Woman at the Well.  We learned the more time with spend with the Father, the more we will recognize and be able to discern His voice.  God speaks to us through His Spirit, to our spirit and the longer we walk with God, the more we will be able to discern the voice of God and the more quickly we will do so.  In fact, there will be times you don’t even have to guess about it.  You’ll just know and recognize God’s voice so clearly, it would be as if your were a child again and your mother or father were calling your name.  It’s that clear and perceptible.

Yet, we still make many mistakes in hearing and discerning the voice of God because we are so steeped in old wives’ tales and superstitions (knocking on wood) and tradition.  Let me give you three examples that I’ve learned through the years.

#1 The “message in a minute” view.

According to this view, either God is telling you what to do at every turn of the road or He is at least willing to tell you every moment and every second if you would only ask Him.  The problem is I do not believe either the Bible or my experience in the way of following Christ will substantiate this view.

For example, there is no evidence in the life of Peter or Paul, that they were CONSTANTLY receiving information and communication from God.  They sought the Lord and we are admonished to “pray without ceasing”  (1 Thess. 5:17) But, we don’t see them hearing from God at every moment.  There were times that Paul, the great Apostle, wasn’t told by God at the very moment (at that instant) what God’s will was in a given situation.  In fact on one occasion, the Bible records where the “Spirit of Jesus” would not allow Paul and his travelling companions to enter an area called Bithynia. (Acts 16:7).  Why?  Because God wanted Paul to go do Macedonia.  Paul wasn’t told that until later that night.  He wasn’t told at the moment he was getting ready to cross the border of Mysia and go in.  So, he simply had to trust the Lord and His timing and so do we…when we don’t have full information.

Think about the life of Jesus on this earth.  Jesus and the Father have the greatest union we can conceive.  Yet, while on this earth, Jesus sought the Father in prayer to get discernment and direction.  Take a look at Luke 5.  I want to show you something.  In Luke 5, Jesus called His first “disciples.”  Notice the word, “disciples.”  It’s with a “D” not an “A.”  In verses 8 and 9 we see that Peter, James and John left everything and followed Jesus.  But, they weren’t called Apostles yet.  Take a look at Luke 6:12:

12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.  Luke 6:12-16

Do you see it?  Jesus prayed all night seeking discernment from His Father.  It didn’t just magically appear to Him.  Jesus had many disciples by this point, but it was time to pour His life into 12 and ultimately three of the twelve, (Peter, James and John).  So, He sought wisdom to do so.  How much more so do we need to seek the Lord for wisdom, if Jesus did?

God ultimately speaks to the mature Christian…one that has been walking with Him for some time.  This is not to say that God can’t speak to people at their conversion…as Jesus did to Saul on the “Road to Damascus,” but ultimately He speaks to His sheep and we know His voice from time and experience being with him.

#2 The “it’s all in the Bible” view

I believe this second view is seriously misguided.  On the surface you might not understand why I say, “If it’s all in the Bible” why it’s misguided…but, here’s why.  It’s a “name it and claim it” or “point to it” and it will happen mentality of hearing God’s voice.  I call it “Bible roulette.”  It’s where you allow the Bible to fall open where it will and then you stab your finger at a random page to see which verse it lands on and then you read the verse to see what you should do.  That’s dangerous.  You could be like the man who wondered if he should kill himself (as terrible as that is) and he thought he’d consult the Bible.  He flipped it open and pointed and the Bible said, “And Judas went out and hung himself.”  Well, that scared him to death and he thought he’d take another stab.  So, he flipped a few pages, closed his eyes, stabbed at a verse and it said, “What thou doest, doest thou quickly.”  Oh my!!  Do you see how dangerous and superstitious this can be?

The principles in Scripture are there for us to read and discern…like for raising children.  But, you have to study the whole Scripture about a matter…not just a selected and isolated verse here and there.  You must read the whole counsel of God’s Word to get clear guiding principles from the Word.

#3 The “whatever comes” view

This third mistaken view of how God speaks is commonly adopted and has much to offer in terms of “peace of mind,” but lacks in substance when it comes to truly hearing from God.  This view literally means that we believe that whatever happens must be God’s will.  That no matter what circumstance comes in our life that God allowed it, so it must be His will.  This view counsels us to accept EVERYTHING that happens as the guidance of God.  Yet we know this is preposterous because we know the Devil is active and on the prowl to take us down and sin is active in our lives and the heart of man is deceitfully wicked and we’re terrible at discerning the “facts” around us at times.

If Moses has accepted this view…then, the children of God would have been destroyed when he came off Mt. Sinai and he saw them worshipping the golden calf.  Look at what God said to Moses in Exodus 32:10:

9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'” 14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Not only did Moses not accept whatever came, he actually and successfully withstood God’s own declared intent in the matter by appealing to God’s reputation before the surrounding nations and to his friendship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).

Many things that happen are not the will of God, although obviously He does not act to stop them.  For example, “the Lord is…not wanting any to perish, but all to be saved and come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)  Nevertheless, countless die every day and go to Hell because they haven’t accepted Christ.

We know that God’s world is an arena that we have an indispensible role to play as we hit our knees and pray.  Prayer literally changes things!  Just like they did with Moses’ prayer for the people.  When we accept whatever comes, we are not receiving guidance.  The fact that something happens does not indicate that it is God’s will.  We must pray and be discerning to see if it is indeed God’s will.  Ultimately, God wants to speak to us in a conversational way.  He speaks must clearly in this manner through His beloved Word.  He gives specific communication to those who choose to immerse their lives in His kingdom, not theirs.

The prophet Jeremiah sums it up best:

12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD…  Jeremiah 29:12-14a

Notice the Lord says: “I WILL be found by you.”  But, it takes the whole heart!  When you and I decide to seek God with our whole hearts…when we are clean before Him, when we have spent dedicated time with Him, we WILL hear from God!  You can count on it!

Read Full Post »

This past weekend my family and I had the privilege of attending a conference in Winston-Salem, NC at the Benton Convention Center.  Exactly six years ago at this same convention center and at this same (annual) conference, Jesus Christ spoke to my life in what was the beginning of my understanding of His desire for me to preach and teach His Gospel.  What was the conference?  It was a homeschool conference.  My family and I have had the privilege of homeschooling for eleven years now.  It is truly a privilege and yes, a “calling” on our lives. 

I seldom mention anything about our lives as a homeschooling family.  As a pastor, my job is to preach and teach and equip people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  (Eph. 4:12) However, I would like to use this blog post to make mention of why my family desires to do what we do as homeschoolers.  Why do I choose to do this or share this, if you will?  Honestly, I’m not even sure.  In fact, I’m not even sure if anyone would even care to read this post outside of my own family.  But, for the person that may read this and wonder why the Browns choose to disciple our children at home…I will briefly explain.  I will do so, mainly because, once again, I’ve been inspired by this conference…the same conference that the Lord used years ago as the catalyst for placing His call to preach the Gospel on my life.

Well, here it is.  Why do we choose to home disciple our children?  You may say, “Wait a minute…I though it was homeschooling you were talking about.”  Well, actually I feel more inclined to use the term “home disciple.”  And it’s this term that I choose to use that sums up why we feel called and impressed to live the lifestyle that we do.  For you see, “home discipling” is a way of life, more than it is “just” another form of education.  It’s simply that I believe the main way that I may pass along my faith in Jesus Christ to my children is through the method that was used for 5,800 years on this earth, just prior to the last 200 years…home discipleship.  Anyone that knows me must know that I am desperate to make sure that my children know and understand who Jesus Christ is even more than if they learn that x plus y = z or the Periodic Table or the “present past future tense.”  I do not want my children to be a part of the 92% of young adults that drop out of church and abandon their faith by their 20th birthday.

You see education is very important to me and my family.  We have plenty of it.  My wife has a Master’s Degree in Education from Appalachian State University with a minor in Spanish, as a matter of fact.  I have a BSBA in Marketing and Management and graduated number one in my Marketing Class from Appalachian State University in 1990.  However, with all of that said, education is not the “be all-end all” for my family, nor is it our desire that our children be the “brain-iest” people who have ever lived.  You see our greatest desire is to know that our children are walking in the truth.  (3 John 4).  My greatest desire for my family is one of a vision of what the “Kingdom of God” should and can look like in their lives.  This is a multi-generational vision that will transfer to my grandchildren and beyond.  I literally believe in Matthew 6:33…”Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”  It’s my life verse.  We must seek God first in all that we do!

Why?  Because one day when my children stand before God, He’s not going to ask them what college they went to, what their grade point average was, what they majored in, how much money they made or how large their house, car or 401-K was while they were on His earth.  He’s going to ask them, “What have you done with Jesus, my Son and for my kingdom?”  That kingdom (God’s kingdom) is what matters.  Believers, we are just pilgrims passing through on this earth.  This is NOT our home.  This is a motel stop on our way to our final destination, our eternal home in the Father’s house.  You see, I no longer live for this (earthly) kingdom.  That’s what changed in my heart and mind six years ago at the Benton Convention Center in Winston Salem, NC.  What changed is that I saw that I was living for my kingdom and I truly didn’t even understand exactly why, we as a family, were even doing what we were doing as home disciplers.  I understand now that my job is to be a baton-passer of the faith of Jesus Christ to my children.

With all of this said, today, I must tell you that by no means have I, or my family, arrived.  We struggle like everyone else in this sin-wracked world.  But, I will tell you this.  I’m convinced that the greatest way for me to reach my children and to teach them (and that is my first responsibility as ordained by God…I’m to reach and teach my children first and foremost with the gospel) is through home discipleship.  Deut 6 tells us:

6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deut 6:6-9  (italics added)

The Psalmist implores parents:

 1 O my people, hear my teaching;
       listen to the words of my mouth.

 2 I will open my mouth in parables,
       I will utter hidden things, things from of old-

 3 what we have heard and known,
       what our fathers have told us.

 4 We will not hide them from their children;
       we will tell the next generation
       the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
       his power, and the wonders he has done.

 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
       and established the law in Israel,
       which he commanded our forefathers
       to teach their children

 6 so the next generation would know them,
       even the children yet to be born,
       and they in turn would tell their children.

 7 Then they would put their trust in God
       and would not forget his deeds
       but would keep his commands.

 8 They would not be like their forefathers—
       a stubborn and rebellious generation,
       whose hearts were not loyal to God,
       whose spirits were not faithful to him.  Psalm 78:1-8 (italics added)

And the Apostle Paul encourages, and yes mandates, the responsibility for raising children to the fathers…not the schools, churches, coaches or anyone else for that matter:

4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4 (bold, italics added)

The Bible implores me as a pastor (the Scriptures call me an Elder):

 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)  1 Tim. 3:4-5  (italics added)

I was reminded this past Friday and Saturday why my family does what we do.  Home discipling is the way of training, teaching and discipling that was known in this world until the industrial revolution and it was the way, lest we forget, that the majority of our founding fathers were discipled (educated) in their “compulsory years.”  While we live in a culture today that may not understand what families like ours are doing…my prayer is that folks will understand and trust me when I tell them that I’m just as called to home disciple my family as I am to preach the Word…for they are both callings on my life and that of my family’s and we deeply love both privileges and thank the Lord for them.

Read Full Post »

Probably one of the most asked questions I get as a pastor is “How do you hear God’s voice and how can you tell if it’s Him really speaking to you?”  Well, to begin with, I believe God speaks in four primary ways:

  1. Circumstances (we call these open doors)
  2. People (family, friends, teachers, pastors, etc.)
  3. Prayer
  4. Word of God (The Bible)

The problem for most believers is that we typically only focus on the first two and quite honestly, that’s what the world does as well.  They are looking for “open doors” and to the advice of their “friends.”

We must realize God wants to speak to us individually.  Just like He spoke to Moses at the burning bush, Paul on the Road to Damascus and to the Woman at the Well.  But, we ask, “Can God…Would God really speak to me?”  Well why not?  We are His children right?  Does God shun any of His children?  Of course not.  But, He won’t speak into the life of one of His children if there is sin in that life, “known sin,” that we choose not to deal with.

For most of us, we quite simply don’t we to deal with the sin in our lives or even recognize it.  The Bible says, if we hold sin in our lives, then God will not hear us.  (Psalm 66:18).  It would go against His nature to speak to us if we are living in known sin.  We are called to be holy, sanctified and set apart.  When we are “clean” before God (in other words, we have repented…I mean truly repented and forsaken all sin that has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit), then we can and will hear from God.  Why?

Because as believers, there is something that is fantastically wonderful for us to understand as a child of God, a joint-heir with Christ.  It’s that we have access to God.  That’s right…to the God of the universe.  The Bible says we can come boldly to God:

16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16

We have access to God because of our position in Christ.  When we were saved, we gained access to God through the shed blood of Christ.  He bought our access, if you will, to the Father.  This is called in theological terms, the “priesthood of the believer.”  We don’t have to go through a priest or a preacher to talk to God.  We can talk to Him at any time at any place, without an appointment.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Boy, you sure can’t do that at the doctor’s office can you.  Just walk right in and see the doctor with no waiting.  But, that’s the case with God…we get to talk to Him without going through a waiting room.  Yet, we spend so little time doing so.

Yet for many, and yes, at times for me, I must admit, it’s hard to discern the voice of God.  People ask me often.  “How can I tell if what I’m hearing is the voice of God, the voice of Satan or my own desires or motives, or that of what I’ve been told or heard from someone else?”  Well, it’s quite simple.  Just as a mother recognizes the voice of her child and a child recognizes the voice of his father, so will we recognize the voice of God.  The Bible records Jesus’ own words in explaining this principle using the analogy of the shepherd and his sheep in John 10:1-5:

1“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:1-5

The more time you and I spend with the Father, the more we will recognize and be able to discern His voice.  How do we spend time with the Father?  Well, I know many will quickly answer “We spend time with God in prayer.”  That is a true statement, but there is more.  There is the Word of God.  See number four at the beginning of this discussion?  The Word of God is our guide.  So we must be a student of the Word of God in order to be a student of God and understand His will.  (Romans 12:1-2)  However, many of us come to the proverbial “fork in the road” in our lives and we do this.  We look for open doors, we talk to friends and family and then we say a little prayer and then “go with our gut.”  How spiritual is that.  Remember, God’s ways aren’t our ways and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8)  So, what seems reasonable to us is often times absolutely counter to what God wants you to do.

Many times in my life and that of my family, He is called us to do the most irrational, illogical thing imaginable.  Yet, that’s true in Scripture is it not?  God told Abraham to leave His home country and go to a place that He didn’t even tell him before He left.  God told Moses to go and deliver His people, but didn’t even tell him how.  God told Mary that she would bear the Son of God, even though she didn’t understand how.  What about you?  What do you sense that He is telling you?

You may say, “Well, Kevin…that’s the whole point of this…is it not…how do I tell if what I’m hearing is the voice of God?”  Ok…ok…I hear ya!  Let me say this.  Remember how we saw Jesus’ words when He said, the sheep will follow the shepherd because “they know his voice?”  That’s the key.  We must know His voice.  Remember we are spirit beings.  Our bodies will die one day, but our spirit will go to heaven (if we have repented of our sins and made Jesus the Lord and boss of our lives and bear evidence of that).  This is important to understand, because the Holy Spirit of God will “bear witness” or “speak” to our spirit.  Romans 8:16 says:

16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Romans 8:16

You see, God will speak to us through His spirit, to our spirit and the longer we walk with God, the more we will be able to discern the voice of God and the more quickly we will do so.  In fact, there will be times you don’t even have to guess about it.  You’ll just know and recognize God’s voice so clearly, it would be as if your were a child again and your mother or father were calling your name.  It’s that clear and perceptible.

Remember God’s original intent was to walk with man.  Remember the Garden of Eden when Jesus walked in the “cool of the day” with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8).  Remember He will live with mankind in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-3).

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  Revelation 21:1-3

How do we sense the presence of God and Him speaking to us?  For most new believers, they sense the presence of God in worship services or in settings with other believers.  Collectively, they sense the presence of God.  We did this past Sunday, when we talked about “The Suddenly of Prayer.”  What a tremendous time basking in the glory and presence of God.

But, ultimately, we want to grow to the point that we hear from God individually.  That’s what God wants.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads and He wants to commune with us.  Take a look at this prime example from an email from BeckyLynn Black in her efforts to communicate with folks in Ethiopia who desperately needed to talk to her.

Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 10:57 AM

Incidentally, I woke at 4am, and tied to call both Oshe (who is in Addis, Ethiopia) and Ephrem….I called repeatedly, but the calls would not go thru.  Finally I gave up, sensing it just wasn’t the Lord’s timing for me to call.   Just now (10am) I called Ephrem….and guess who was with him??  Oshe!  I asked to talk to Oshe after talking with Ephrem…and he was so amazed.  He said “I was just thinking to myself, ‘How can I tell Becky to call me?'” All of this to say….it is amazing to me how the Lord arranges things!!!

Poor Oshe is there trying to buy medical supplies that he doesn’t understand.  He needs to talk to me, and the Lord causes me to call at exactly the right moment!  We serve a wonderful God….He knows how to arrange His work.  We don’t need to be anxious about it! Incidentally, you might have seen on the website our article about the need for houses for 2 evangelists in Alaba.  The cost is $5,050 for each house. About a week after that article, we received a check for $7,000 from someone in Texas.  And 2 days ago, I got a call.  “What projects are you working on in Ethiopia?”   “Well, the greatest need we have now is for houses for 2 evangelists.” “How much do they cost?”  “$5,050 for each house.  We need 2 houses.  One has been funded, but we still need money for the other one.” “I’m sending you a check today for $5,000 to cover the cost of the other one.” Out of the clear blue, God sends us the funds….some from Texas, and some from Virginia.  He knows what He is doing.  We can trust Him.  Only let us be faithful & obedient to our part in His work. 

Love yall bunches!  And so happy that we are serving Him together!


Amazing story huh?  We serve an amazing God indeed.  He prompts us and motivates us through His spirit to be able to discern His voice.  The key is spending time with Him so that we become accustomed to what His voice sounds like.  But, please understand, when I say “spending time” with Him, I’m talking about a “walk along, talk along” conversation with Him.  Not a “once and done” in the morning prayer or bedtime prayer.  You and I are equipped to talk to the Father at any time, at any place, at any moment.  Cleanse yourself and get into the mindset of prayer and watch what the Lord will do and be listening for the Great Shepherd’s voice.

Read Full Post »

What is the role of a Christian?  Have you thought about it lately?  I’m not asking what the role of a church member is…I’m asking what is the role of a believer in Christ after they have accepted Him as Lord.  What are they supposed to do?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Ha!!

I’ll answer that question…hopefully below, but I’ve honestly had to go through a process of readjusting my thinking to a more Biblical understanding of what the Bible teaches.  You see, I used to think that after you got saved, that was pretty much it.  You are now in the “family” and you just live your life for yourself and to yourself until you get to heaven.   I mean, we try not to sin and we love people and all that, but pretty much beyond that and just going to church and inviting people to church (friends and neighbors occasionally)…well, that’s about it.

Boy can I tell you how wrong I now see that thinking is.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 5:20:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…

Did you see that?  We are Christ’s ambassadors.  What is an ambassador?  I’m glad you asked…ha! 

An ambassador according to the dictionary is:  “An authorized messenger or representative.”  We are an authorized messenger of Christ.  I mean think about it…God could have chosen His angels to share the good news of life in His Son, Jesus Christ, but He chose us!  Amazing!  So, what are we doing with this good news?  For most of us…probably not as much as we should be.  Do you know why?

Because for most good “church members,” we’re satisfied with just coming to church to be entertained.  It seems going to church is the goal for most believers (ambassadors) of Christ and that’s not Scriptural.

Did you know if you ask typical church members why their church exists, you’ll get a wide variety of answers, but for the most part it centers on them (the church member).  Win Arn, a consultant to hundreds of churches, says 89% of church members he surveyed, said the church’s purpose is “to take care of my needs.”  He said, for many, the role of the pastor is simply to keep the sheep who are already in the pen happy and not lose any of them.  Only 11% said the purpose of the church is “to win the world for Christ.”  How sad indeed.

If we are going to be Scriptural, let’s look at what the believers did in the first century church.  Any student of the first church will tell you that the first century believers of Christ went out and told others one on one in most cases about Jesus…on a daily basis (literally breaking bread in each other’s homes.  Acts 2, 4).  Then they came together and assembled together to do what?  Read it in Acts chapter 2:42…it says they came together to meet, to eat, to fellowship, to pray and to be taught.  The gathering of the believers on the Lord’s Day was like a holy huddle, where they would come together, get the play and then Monday through Saturday…they would execute the Gospel as salt and light in the world.  Do you see that?  We are to come to church on Sundays to hear the Word of God in song and message…”get the play” in our holy huddle…if you will…get pumped up and edified as believers…equipped and prepared (Ephesians 4) and then they we go out and get the work of leading people to Jesus done during the week. 

But, sadly, today…instead of being paramedics with the gospel saving lives with the gospel of Christ…we are simply more comfortable being good little Christian “ambulances,” just to bring them here to the building and hope the Pastors (the professionals) can lead them to Jesus.  That’s not Scriptural dear friend!  In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus said, “YOU are the salt…YOU are the light of the world.”  It’s not just me, as a Pastor, that is to get the job of winning people to Christ and being His ambassador to the people.  He said in His Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, to each of us that we as individuals are to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  That’s all of us good people!! 

People need the light of Jesus, because they are without hope without Him.  For many, they simply can’t see the light.  They have been blinded by the god of this age…the Devil and the stuff of this world.  They are drowning in the folly of worldly power, fortune, and success.  Their lives are dark and they are groping for help.  People are looking for someone to care…for someone to show them the way.  We must show them that the light they are looking for at the end of the tunnel is none other than Jesus…the light of the world.  Would you be that someone for them?  Can they see the light of Jesus in us…do our deeds show Him?  Are we willing to sacrifice and live lives that are so Godly and so holy that His light in us is unmistakable?

So, what is your role?  Quite simple.  Be an ambassador.  Use your gifts and do the work of the Lord in your circle of influence and in your sphere of influence.  If we do this, then we’ll be taking the life-giving Gospel as paramedics to this lost and sin-sick world.  So “Ambassador/Paramedic” get your medical bag (the Word and your Testimony) and LET’S GO!!

Read Full Post »