Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"the least of these"...

Our schedule in Mexico was generally set in advance. We functioned day to day with ministry opportunities that our contact in Nuevo Laredo had set up.

One of our routine teachings is that "our disappointment is God's Divine Appointment." (Walker Moore)

I have written of this before. So many things happen in life that are disappointing, yet if we are looking, there are usually obvious opportunities to minister that result from whatever the disappointment was or led to.

On this day, we were scheduled to minister in a Wal-Mart mall complex. We were very excited about being able to do this. We had prepared the team in advance for this ministry, and they could not wait. Even though we had ministered many other places before and after this, they were juiced about this specific site.

I have also shared that I do not respond well to short notice in schedule changes.

In His wisdom (and perhaps sense of humor) the Lord routinely places me in sets of circumstances that 'help me grow through this.'

As we were en route to Wal-Mart, we got notice that the site canceled us!

Our translator set into motion a new plan. He contacted a pastor friend and asked if we could minister to his body.

He begged us to come and minister to his congregation. He promised they would be there in 10 minutes.

Anyone who has ever functioned in a Latin culture finds the humor in that statement.

We arrived, knowing we still had a schedule to meet.

Upon arrival, I was told I needed to bring a message to this congregation, and that the pastor had said, "my people come, but they won't do anything." In other words, they believe but won't put their belief into practice.

Can I just say, I don't respond well to being told just moments before we begin that I need to preach a message at the conclusion of our 18 minute drama? I should have no problem with this. I know Scripture teaches, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1Pe 3:15

Still, it was as if I had been punched in the stomach and had to recover from the shock and pain. My partner knew me well enough to know I needed time. She took the team and gave me time to get into the Word.

10 minutes came and went and no one was there.

I chased through the Word.

My partner told our translator that we could wait to begin for no more than 45 minutes, as we had be somewhere else, after. He agreed.

45 minutes later, there were three or four children present. We began anyway, trusting the Lord to bring those He needed to hear.

We were set up awkwardly, at the front entrance to the church (or the back of the building). This was because there was no room in the sanctuary area, and rain had caused this area to be under a puddle of water.

Throughout the performance, people filed in. All had to pass through the middle of the drama to get to a seat to watch.

The Lord had prepared my mind for His message, which I then assumed I would not bring as no adults were present to hear it. Just as I made this mental switch, adults filed in one after the other, until the church was full! All this in the last five minutes of the drama.

This message was the least of brent and the most of Christ. I wish I could always preach this way, as He is in complete control. Yet, my blood pressure rises immeasurably in these times of uncertainty.

The approach was two fold. First we dealt with those who had never made a decision for Christ. We saw nearly half of those present surrender their lives to the Lordship of Jesus! We praised Him for this, but quickly moved on.

Next, the message the Lord provided was on "five attributes of a healthy church."

All I can tell you is that the Lord came in power! He moved mightily among the church members who had reportedly entered with apathetic hearts. He called his body to action, and they remained behind after we had to leave, to put framework to what the Lord had called them to do.

Sometimes, when God moves, men give praise to men for their part. While this message and move of the Lord had little to do with me, I was asked to return to this city in a couple of months to lead a crusade... based on God's message in those moments (where I nearly came unglued). He brings His affirmation in unexpected ways.

God had a message for His church. He saw that our time at Wal-Mart was canceled so that His people could hear this message. Had I had time to prepare, I would have made it more of me and less of Him. Not intentionally, but that tends to happen instinctively.

I accepted no credit when praise was given. This was the Lord growing a man, a team, and a body who needed to hear from Him, all at one moment in time.

Truly, our disappointment was His Divine Appointment.

Many came to Christ. Many were drawn into His motivating presence. Many learned a lesson through experience that they had previously, only understood intellectually. One man learned (again) that God is in control and if we allow ourselves to be used and are in His Word and seeking after Him, He will use us in power.

Praise God for His power. Praise Him for His faithfulness. Praise Him for the impact He had on my team, the new believers that resulted, His body which He motivated to serve, and for my renewed understanding of a principle I seem to have to keep learning.



At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the picture. I also love what you wrote. God is in control. You know we love you and are so proud of the way you let the Lord lead you.
Aunt Maralyn

At 12:28 AM, Blogger Marti Pieper said...

I love the way God is teaching you what He has hammered (and still hammers) into me. I seem to remember that you quoted this truth on your blog the other day, too: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Cor. 12:9).

As I prepare to teach writers next week, I'm asking God to allow me to teach out of my weakness. It makes an incredible vehicle for His strength!

Thanks for sharing and for listening--to Him.

praying in pink
with tender love.

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God!


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