The God of the Second Chance

July 15, 2009

In the small town close to ours live quite a few people who come to our church–some adults, mostly teens.  On the days when there are no church activities they do what other kids do.  They find things that border on wrong but are forgivable enough that they feel that they don’t get in trouble with God.  Among this group of friends is a young man who had just begun coming to a few youth activities but he told our youth leader that he didn’t believe there was a God.  However, because this pastor’s wife and her pastor husband were “cool” he would consider coming back and maybe even try church.

Well, last night the first chance at finding God almost came to an abrupt end for him.  He went on a beer run for a party.  This normally would not have been a problem but there was heavy rain and the roads were covered with water.  He was driving a convertible so the car was not as safe as a sedan would have been under the same conditions.  The worst happened; the car hydroplaned and he was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled.  In his fear he cried out” God if you are there and you are real, please save me.”  God was there and is totally real and He saved him from certain death.

Yes he is hurt.  He has 17 stitches in his head but he is home and he is alive.  Needless to say, God is definitely the God of the 2nd chance.  Is this young man a believer?  Don’t know but I do know this, we will be given a chance to show him that God is real and He is ready to be this young man’s Savior and Lord.  Wow!  What a testimony of God’s saving grace!

I’m glad that I have been here to hear this story.  What an awesome God we serve!

No Man/Woman can Serve Two Masters

July 15, 2009

Wow, what a day this has been in the small town where I live.  I feel like I was in “drama central”!  It all began last night when I got a call from a close friend. She had been asked to leave her current home that was a shared residence with her boyfriend.  She was frantically trying to get to a safe place for the night.  She said she would see me in the morning.

Well, morning arrived and I got ready to go to work.  As I walked down the street I met a young girl from youth group who was in deep distress because of a situation at the home where she was babysitting.  The house was also the residence of her boy friend.  I walked over there with her to try and clear up the situation and found myself in the middle of a grandmother screaming obsenities at my friend, her boyfriend, and myself.  She threatened to call the sheriff if we didn’t leave so I did after telling the grandmother the girl was not lying.

It didn’t get any better.  Boyfriend and girlfriend were the recepients of threatening phone calls from the boy’s father.  He ran from his house and came to mine where another town citizen was sent to retrieve him and bring him home.  In the mean time, my friend arrived back in town and was trying to work out her situation.

Here is where the two masters come in.  The boyfriend, girlfriend, and my friend have all accepted Christ and are or have been living in situations where the family home is not Christian.  This is terribly difficult and makes me realize what a terrible hold the world has on parents and grandparents where God is considered nothing but a swear word and punishment is dealt out by taking away Christian activities.

We are in a battle against powers and principalities and our war becomes harder and harder.  This morning I realized how deep the problem goes because of what God told Abraham in the Bible.  The blessings of being a righteous father go to the 3rd and 4th generation while the curses of an ungodly father go even deeper.

Oh God help us.  Give us wisdom, wise counsel, and the faith to continue the fight.  Without your help we can’t win.  Help us to pray without ceasing and lead us to workers who will help us in our mission.  One Master for the world must be our goal.

Where do They Go from Here?

July 13, 2009

Tonight we stopped by the church as the youth group was beginning their evening meeting.  We sat down at the table with about 6 of them and watched and listened as a text conversation began between two girls–one present and one in the town nearby.  It was bad.  One challenged the other to fight.  The language was appalling and the whole situation made me sick.

I know both of the girls involved.  One of them was my neighbor when she was a baby.  Matter of fact, our daughter babysat for her many times.  The other comes to our church on a regular basis and is a member of our youth group.  My mind began to dwell on the situation and I thought about what these kids were doing.  My concern for them goes much deeper than that of a pastor’s wife and/or friend to them.  What are they doing with their future?  If this is their behavior pattern, what is life going to be like for their future children.

God’s word says that we must turn the hearts of the parents toward their children and through that to a relationship with Jesus Christ.  How can these teens have any relationship that will teach morals and upright living to their children.  Are their kids going to grow up with filthy language being the talk of their homes?  Are their children going to threaten to beat up other kids or even worse–to kill them.

O God, help us who labor in the mission field of our town.  Help us to show these teens and children that their lives are precious in God’s sight and it is His desire that none of them should perish.  I think about how minute our church is in size and how difficult the task that awaits us.  My heartfelt prayer is that God will place the burden in the hearts of others who can help us.  Otherwise, what future do our children have? 

For my own children and grandchildren, my prayer is that God will keep them pure and holy in His sight and that they will have the strength to keep away from the evils of this world.  May this be your prayer too.

A Sabbath Blessing

July 6, 2009

In our biased minds we have a tendency to give ourselves a very narrow-minded world view.  There are many things in our lives that influence us and allow us to close our minds to what God exactly is demanding of us.

I grew up in a small town where the entire population was white and predominantly of one race and religion.  That in itself has a tendency to close a person’s mind to the vastness of God’s plan for us.  We set ourselves down a certain path and decide that we are not going to turn either to the right or left.  However, sometimes God shakes us up and makes us move our path to His whether our minds want to go that way or not.

It has now been about 6 months since our church has decided to align itself with a church of a different ethnic persuasion.  This church is being birthed in a larger city close to our small rural town.  Life has been interesting since this has happened.  We have shared worship services and fellowshipped together.  When we sing the songs out of our hymnals, they look at us like we are from another planet.  When their pastor preaches and becomes loud we try to become like they do and say Amen along with their congregation.

Today was a day of unusual circumstances.  Five churches combined their worship service in the yard of our rural church.  We sang white-folk songs and the black preacher brought the message.  We co-mingled on the lawn and shared barbecue lunch together.  Our church provided the burgers, theirs provided potato salad and dessert.  The message was “The Wide View through a Narrow Window” based on the book of Job.

Since we have been working with this new church, it has changed our old one that has been in existance for over 75 years.  We have widened our view to become less judgmental of those of different race, color, social status.  We have learned that no one should be denied the chance to enter eternity with Christ and it is up to us to present the way to those who don’t have assurance.  We are learning to share our prayer needs and our answers to prayer.  We are learning to expand our horizons to assist those who need help in planting a children’s and youth ministry.

This Sabbath was a blessing.  Hope yours was too.

The Sunday Surprise

June 23, 2009

For the past four or five weeks, we have had someone accept Christ at the morning service and that in itself is a marvelous, wonderful happening.  So, this Sunday morning when there weren’t any people who looked like they needed to make a life-altering change, I was almost disappointed.

However, God is a God of surprises and He definitely had one in store for our body of believers.  For the past year or so, a young woman from a larger city east of our small town has been attending on a mostly-regular basis.  Someone from the church always has to get her and bring her back as she has no vehicle or even a driver’s license.  When she comes, many times she spends the whole weekend sleeping on my couch.  This is not a problem for the most part as she is a very helpful person.

Sunday morning the offering plate passed her and after it did I saw her lift up her wallet and show the man sitting next to her that it was totally empty.  I knew that she was definitely broke as she had told us that morning that she had no money for food though her financial aid was supposed to be settled by the 13th of July.  This money would enable her to live for the remainder of summer classes.  So, when she emptied her wallet I was totally surprised because this is totally out of character for her.

God knew what was going to happen though.  During prayer time, the young woman asked for prayer that her financial aid would be released soon so she would have money to live.  Again, she lifted her wallet and mentioned that she had felt led to put her remaining “widow’s mite”  into the offering plate.  So, the pastors prayed for her, that her financial situation would soon be eased but neither of them knew just how soon it would be.

Following the service, I saw a woman visitor go up to the pastors and talk with them.  Shortly thereafter, they called the young woman over to the three who were talking in front.  After the group dispursed for lunch the pastor told me that the visitor had been moved by the woman’s desire to please God and gave her a sum of money.  The amount of the change she had placed in the plate was just about 10% of the money given back to her.

The message of that morning was “Response” and dealt with the changes in our lives when we come to know Christ and how we respond to them.  What a neat way of showing us how God responded to the visitor’s response to the message.  Do you ever become prompted of God to do something?  May I challenge you to respond to His leading and see where He takes you.  It will be exciting and your life will never be the same.

What’s hiding in your life?

June 16, 2009

I noticed that it has been a very long time since I have written a blog.  I don’t do this just because I want to have people notice me and what I say,  but when something weighs heavily on my heart.  This week something did so here it goes.

We have lived in our small town for almost 15 years now.  You learn a lot about people after all these years of being in the same place, the same street, same church, same house.  But, deep down inside, there are secrets buried in the hearts and lives of many people. Sometimes these things that we call hidden erupt at the most inopportune times to disrupt the lives of those around us and change people’s opinions about us.

In this area, lives a family that we have known for all these years.  We always have liked them and valued them as a family who knows Christ and serves the Lord.  My world was rocked when I learned that one of the couple is an abuser of the other.  Wow, what do I do with this?  Do I tell anyone?  Does it change the way I treat the people?  Do I cut myself off from ministry to them?

Oh boy, did I pray, especially when the abuse was verified by another person who said it was common knowledge in their circle of acquaintances and relatives.  Now I have to feel my way to see where this knowledge leads me.  Of course, I have begun to pray in a different way for this couple but also have been asking the Lord how I must react to the circumstances.  Love and compassion must rule in these circumstances and when God gives the opportunity, I must share His love for us in a deeper way.

This week has shaken me.  I have been led to counseling sessions for things that seemed to be impossible in the lives of people.  I realize that it is only through Christ that I have the strength both emotionally and spiritually to work through these situations.  May I be an encouragement to those who have to walk in the same shoes as mine.  God is your strong tower and He will give you the leading to work through what seems to be impossible things.

What did I learn?  A deeper love for these people because they need it more than ever before.  If the abused is to find peace, God will provide.  If the abuser is to find forgiveness, it will be through God’s grace in his/her life.  Pray with me that this situation will be overcome and that God will reign supreme in these two lives.

Is Witnessing Worth Anything?

May 3, 2009

This morning the pastor had a message about “Go” and preach the gospel.  All of us have heard it over and over and probably haven’t done anything about it because 1)witnessing is for a professional pastor, 2)I don’t know what to say, and 3)no one lives around here that doesn’t know about God.

Well, as I listened, I got to thinking about the events of the past week and also about what witnessing has done for our little church in our little town.  We had a puppet show where hardly anyone came but a man who was there asked to speak to the pastor and wanted to know how to have assurance of salvation.  Wow, the witnessing in all things really works.

Then I looked around our little group and thought about all those who had been saved directly because of contact with our church or indirectly because we had taken them somewhere and they had gone forward to receive Christ.  At least 11 out of our small group and our youth department have had a life-changing experience with Jesus in the past couple of years.  At our last children’s group meeting 10 children put up their hands to receive Christ.  Some of them repeat over and over but one day they will finally get it and understand the personal relationship that they have with their Lord.

Oh boy, how much more could we do if we constantly looked for opportunities to witness.  There was one young mother in service this morning who had prayed the sinner’s prayer a year and a day ago and she entered the doors of our building for the first time today.  This is the direct result of witnessing to her and loving her through all of her problems.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to stand before my Maker and have Him tell me how many chances I have missed to share the salvation story with someone.  Is witnessing worth anything?  To the new convert is is “out of this world”!