Thursday, April 28, 2011

Whitney, 19 weeks pregnant.

A great man of God died yesterday.

David Wilkerson died in an automobile accident yesterday, in east Texas. He was 79.

He was one of my heroes of the faith! You may or may not remember his book, "The Cross and the Switchblade." It chronicles his early years of ministry, where God used him mightily to reach out to a gang in NYC. Nicky Cruz was the gang leader.

David led him and many other gang members, to Christ. The story is compelling. Nicky Cruz is in ministry today in California. This book is well worth the read.

In recent years, David pastored Times Square Church (NYC). His messages can be found on youtube and elsewhere. He speaks with passion and power. The Lord's anointing was upon this man!

I loved to listen to him. He told it like it is. He laid it all down based on the authority of Scripture. There was no time for 'fru-fru, make people feel good' messages, when our country and the world are headed in the fast lane, to hell.

It is amazing to me that many of us today, prefer to be made comfortable when we listen to a sermon. Granted, we all like to be comfortable. Our society seems to be built on the concept. But when that comfort comes at the cost of eternal damnation for those we are too comfortable to reach out to, then the messages we listen to had better motivate us to action.

I know, I sound like a broken record. I get that. But like David, I cannot allow the perception of others to influence the message that doesn't seem to be getting through.

Much of the time, I am preaching to myself!

It is not enough to agree with an anointed message. We must take action!

Jesus said, "greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." (Jo 15:13-14)

The inactivity of the masses who pour out of churches weekly, seems to proclaim, 'greater love hath no man than this, that he would die for the remote in his hand.'

David routinely skipped the entertainment others frequent, to serve.

At a time when most "Christians" lives reflect the world, David's looked like Jesus'.

The Word of God proclaims that, "whoever claims to live in him, must walk as Jesus did." (1Jo 2:6)

I need to walk different.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

I wrote these words a couple of years ago and shared them at Easter. They are appropriate as we observe His Crucifixion, Resurrection and concentrate on His Grace.

Auburn light cast eerie silhouettes upon the wooden beam
Timbers forced to intersect for purposes unclean

And then laid flat upon the earth, confusion grew inside
Their faces bore a sneering mirth as they stretched His arms so wide

A hammer swung with deadly force to meet an iron spike
To pierce His flesh too easily, they laughed with ugly spite

Blood streamed down His weary face as He turned a glance at me
I could not hold His gaze for long, ashamed I set this tree

He tried to push up from His feet to gain a desperate breath
Unfulfilling gasps gave way as pain intensely wept

Splinters buried deep within His lacerated back
His love, His life, this only Christ is what the people lack

A thief cried out from brokenness and called upon the Lord
Grace was his and mercy too, as shocked were all the lured

A final breath erupted from his parched and bleeding lip
"Father, please forgive them... it is finished" spoke then death

And then a spear did find its mark, it parted flesh and bone
A broken heart did spill its blood and water twixt in foam

A rich man bought a tomb for Him and buried Him that night
But death lost all it's victory as His just life took flight

Roman soldiers slain down dumb as the stone unhinged its way
And Life emerged anew that morn, born again for this new day

And now to Him I turn my heart, my life, my soul, my song
Released from inner prison walls to walk with Him along

A people lost and naked, blind eyes and poor in spirit
Bought gold from Him refined by fire, white raiment, salved eyes clearing

With this New Life all can come to Him who spent it all
To pay for what we don't deserve, by Grace our new Life dawns

Have a blessed Easter!!!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Deanna and I tackle an overwhelming task...

We spent the weekend at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, with Weston and Lauren. We had a great time together! We arrived Friday evening and returned Sunday evening. It was a fantastic time to enjoy His creation. We had no specific agenda, just rest and fellowship! We all need to take time to rest!

I am thankful for a Savior who has so much grace for our many failures.

My wife was telling me recently, about a young woman who traveled overseas with us that is now embracing the things of the world in such a way, that she has placed them on public display.

What is it that draws us away from Him? Why do we walk so willingly away from the One who paid our debt?

It certainly isn't just this girl. We all struggle with it in varying degrees.

What is it that draws us to the brink of forgetting whose we are?

It seems that as soon as we get to a place where we are enjoying life, we let down our spiritual guard. Things that should alarm us, come quietly, and become a part of our life.

These things come innocently at first, but seem to crescendo unless we recognize and take them captive. Too often, we surrender to these new passions, reasoning that they are harmless and we have freedom.

Often then, things begin to spiral in a downward fashion, until we are mired in the filth of deception.

Who then will we respond to? Who has the right to speak into our lives? Who can penetrate the walls of defense we have begun to erect around our hearts?

We hear judgment too quickly.

Our spirit wants cleansing, but our flesh cries out for more of what doesn't fulfill, with the promise that 'it will this time.'

It doesn't.

Failure. Brokenness. Emptiness.

It's a cruel cycle. How did we get here...again?

We promised we'd guard against such foolishness this time. We fell...again.

His grace remains sufficient.

The enemy lies and tells us we've visited this well, too often. It's easier to believe the lie than the truth.

His grace is real! His Truth endures. His love for us is deep and abiding. We can rest in Him!

Jesus, I pray you overwhelm us with your Truth, embrace us in your love, protect us from the enemies lies. Let us hear your voice above the enemies allure!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recently, I have been asked the same question multiple times, by people from multiple continents. Since it seems to be on the hearts and minds of His own, right now, I though I would share my response to a brother in South Africa.

The basic question is, "How do you know if you're being called to be a missionary?"

Here is my response to one of them:

I fought against being a missionary. I sat each week with a ‘white-knuckle’ grip on the pew, refusing to allow the Lord to use me. I am a homebody. I would rather be home with family, hunting, or hiking in the mountains, than to be around people. I don’t like to travel.

I came to realize, that we are ALL called to be missional in our lifestyle. That means no matter where we go, or who we might see, we need for them to see Jesus, not us. Very humbling, indeed! It’s hard to be missional if one spends all of their time in places of personal preference or comfort.

Since yielding to the Lord’s definitive call on my own heart, my family and I have now had the privilege of serving in two dozen countries, on five continents…and I don’t like to travel (laughing).

My family and I were already living missional lives when God called me to become full time in it. We were sharing our faith in our areas of influence in the Midwest of the USA. We were taking advantage of opportunities to serve Him on short term trips, overseas at each opportunity. I am not wealthy. I didn’t think we could afford it, yet the Lord always provided what was needed for us to be able to serve where He called us. God’s economy doesn’t always make financial sense on a personal level. I had to learn to trust Him in this.

Ultimately, to become full time in serving from a missions standpoint, the cost for us would be greater than money or any earthly expectation. We would see our only son and youngest child, spend his very life for the cause of Christ. He would teach us much about what was important. Glorifying Jesus is all that truly matters.

After this, my opportunity came with the very organization my son had traveled with for two summers. They asked me to join their staff and help raise up leaders and students to go and serve, then to lead teams with my wife. My daughters have done so alongside of us, and led for us separately.

His call is articulated to each of us in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). How He uses us, is greatly dependent upon our level of surrender. For us, understanding His will was a gradual thing. Others ask me this question, frequently of late. He seldom reveals His call the same way in each life. The nature of our personal relationship reveals that how He communicates with me, may be different than how He communicates with you. However, the way you routinely hear from Him, is the way He will usually speak truths and calls into your life. Allow His Word to wash over you as you read it. Offer your full surrender, and see how He moves.

My own circumstances are contrary to what the world teaches, or at least how people in my country pursue wealth. Each position he has called me to has required a 25% pay decrease (at a minimum). Things never made financial sense, but our needs have always been met. We truly are on a faith journey, and He provides (thus the reason His Word says, “give us this day our daily bread”). Ours is to follow in obedience and have faith. His is to meet our needs and bring glory to the Father.

Some denominations have their own missions programs that allow for people to apply and then potentially serve. This was not the vehicle He would lead us to or through.

Sometimes, we have to ignore how the world teaches us to be prudent, and just seek Jesus. What doesn’t always make sense to us, has been well thought out by Him. If we are yielded before Him, He will use us. It may not be across a border, but He will use us. What remains important is our surrender and our obedience. Tomorrows landscape may look quite different from today’s. However, He is already there and has a plan. We just need to walk in it.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Pastor Mony, (me) and Dr. Heng Lim, outside of Mondulkiri, Cambodia.

What does it take for us to awaken?

What will cause us to turn loose of the comforts to which we cling?

We are racing at a frenetic pace towards the end times. Simultaneously, we seem to be more focused on intensifying our grip on that which CANNOT be saved, while those who CAN, aren't given consideration.

Do we realize that each of us are going to give an account for how we use our time? Each of us will stand before Him to provide explanation.

What crowns will we lay at His feet, as individuals, if our time is spent cultivating that which cannot be preserved in eternity, to increase momentary pleasures, in the present?

I am reminded of John the Baptist, who was a "voice crying in the wilderness." He was the "forerunner" of Christ. He tried to prepare people to be ready to receive! He gave his life in service, then gave his life completely, and surely considered it all gain!

Where are the 'postrunners?' Who is taking on the responsibilities we are expected to carry? Where is the army of God?

Many are in the fields, seeking to make a difference!

Exponentially more than that number, are safely entrenched in the comforts of futility. Making excuses, and building walls to protect their hearts from the potential recognition of His call. They are battle ready, should the Word penetrate their perimeter.

How must it break the heart of our Father, that we are too accustomed to pleasure to be willing to participate in His plan? Our motto? "There's always more time..."

The collective voice of the martyrs is crying out, "How long Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Rev 7:10

His response?

"...wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed." Rev 7:11

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Mtw 24:14 (there are over 6800 unreached people groups in our world, and they comprise over 40% of the earths population... we are NOT close yet, to reaching the world. We must GO!)

The problem?

"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Mtw 9:37-38)

We must pray! Hearts change through prayer. Our hearts! Our excuses fade into the horizon when are bodies are penitent, and our ears inclined to hear His voice!

We will never go until we first pray! We will not pray until we awake from our slumber... our stupor... our personal goals.

The fields are all around us. Once we exit our comforts, we enter the fields. We don't have to cross a border, we just have to open our hearts. We must begin in prayer. He WILL use us!


Monday, April 04, 2011

Cheetos anyone? Bigger isn't always better (except in Mexico?)!

Who are the "Lord's elite?"

Last night, I was working my booth at the close of a missions conference when this subject was brought up.

I had the privilege of speaking twice over the last four or five days, to students, who were a vital part of this church wide event.

During these days, I've fellowshipped with 65 missionaries from around the world. I've had incredible conversations with them as well as staff, students and parents. God was doing a significant work in and among this body. I was honored to take part (We were even recognized for 'most countries ministered in').

The stories and testimonies I heard were God sized. I gained a pretty clear picture of how we are one body but different members, and each member vital.

As I worked my booth in the closing hour, a mother came to speak with me. She proceeded to tell me what she had told her daughter leading up to this event.

She told her daughter that she was going to meet the "Lord's Elite." In so doing, she needed to be respectful and learn as much as she could. And that maybe one day she could go and serve.

I immediately took issue with this statement, but understood her intent. I did not want to make her feel bad, so I tried to graciously receive her intended complement.

The dictionary defines "elite" as; "the choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons."

Uhm, I need to be excused from that table of personnel! I don't belong.

When the disciples argued over who would sit at the right and left hands of the Father in Heaven, Jesus told them, (in Mk 10:43-45) "...instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Now, I understand that from the perspective of those who do not do ministry on a regular basis that we might be considered His elite.

My contention, however, is that the distance between those who serve and those who don't, is a gap measured by a yardstick of "surrender."

We, as believers, are ALL called. We are not all called to the same place at the same time. That means we certainly fill different functions and roles. There is room for each of us to serve. Thus, if the gap of surrender is closed, we are all His elite.

My role is not more important than your role. Each of our roles are significant. That doesn't mean that some stories won't be more dynamic than others, but that does not equate to 'more elite.'

Our culture is used to measuring size on a grand scale wrought with its worth or value being based on material wealth, power, fame, etc.

Many strive to be found here, but few if any of His elite will find themselves in bold face type on a list like this.

My concern is that if I consider myself worthy of such a title, I have just proved that I am not.

If servants are seeking to serve as Jesus did, the spotlight may come, but they never seek it. They are too busy trying to meet the needs of those who 'have not.'

The more surrendered you are, the more Christ-like you will be. Christ-like people serve. They don't seek the white hot heat and false bravado of a worldly spotlight.

The "Lord's Elite?"

Perhaps we'll see them seated to His right and left... in heaven.


Please be in prayer for a revival I am preaching this weekend Apr 8-10?!