Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Change of Flight Plans

The countdown to launch had begun as I prepared to leave for Uganda again, when an announcement that my dearest friend and partner in ministry would be joining me for this trip. Praise His Holy name only God can open a way when there is not one! The Lord opened the door at the last minute to make it possible for Alicia to go to Uganda in someone's place who could no longer go. All we would have to do is pay for the additional expenses of the trip over the cost of airfare. With the airline ticket being 2,300 dollars this was an incredibly generous gift.

As Alicia was reading her bible this past Saturday morning she felt that she needed to share with the team going to Uganda what the Lord was laying on her heart for each of the team members. After everything was packed and Alicia was waiting to share, she found out she was being offered to step in her place! It has been our desire to go back to Uganda if ever given the opportunity to go again.

The focus of this trip is to strengthen an existing church plant that has struggled after their pastor was asked to resign, and then additional turnover with following pastors. They have a wonderful pastor in place and since several of the team members were used to plant the church originally, it was a great fit. We will do hut to hut sharing the gospel around that church and holding crusades every evening at the church, sharing the gospel in schools and prisons, conducting a soccer camp where we are giving away 80 soccer balls to various schools around the orphanage and tons of jerseys to all the kids. We will also be ministering to the kids at the orphanage through the soccer camp and other ministries. We will also be preaching/teaching in several other church plants that are near by to help strengthen them as well.

We ask that you would keep us in your prayers as we prepare as best we can to walk where God is calling us to walk. There are many details and logistics that need to get taken care of. In addition, while the ticket cost for Alicia has been taken care of, there is still the cost for all of the things that need to be paid for while in Uganda (i.e. lodging, meals, transportation, ministry expenses, translators, etc.). This is where we are stepping out in faith as we have to raise $1,000 of the $3,300 for the cost of the trip.

We cherish and covet your prayers and support. Please pray for us and our children as we prepare for this trip. Please pray for those who will hear the gospel for the first time (the many people in the village, the children in the villages and schools, the men and women in prison). Please also pray for the individual who is unable to make this trip because of family crisis as it must be doubly hard for them to not be going after all of their preparations. If God is leading you to join us financially, you can contact us by phone or e-mail to let us know of your intentions and we will let you know when and where to send the check. Tomball Bible Church will send you a receipt for your tax deductible contributions. If God is leading you to commit to praying for us over the next two weeks, please e-mail us so that we can update you during the trip.

Dear Lord, “Search us, O God, and know our hearts; Try us and know our anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in us, And lead us in the everlasting way” (Psalms 139:23-24). Amen

Simply Gripped by His Grace

Saturday, June 19, 2010

He wants my love to be a little more reckless...like His

I have said before that following Christ is the most exhilarating experience life has to offer. Anyone who is an adrenaline junky, should become an intimate follower of Christ. I regularly meet with two awesome men of God on Thursday mornings at Chic-fil-a. I am amazed at how God delights in blessing our time together and showing up in powerful ways each and every time we meet. This Thursday was no different when we gathered early for the day. We have had opportunities to minister to and pray for so many random individuals that we have now come to expect this, rather than be reluctant in stepping out.

This past Thursday, I saw the lady that is responsible for promotions and marketing of the store. She calls herself the "chicken goddess." When I saw her coming in, I felt in my spirit the jolt that we needed to pray for her today. We prayed for her in the past, and were asked to pray for the coffee pot that was not working on the day they were giving away free breakfast. Important for her day yes, but not very vulnerable. Well, she hurriedly went in and out of the store and I didn't think it was going to happen. While we were talking about how to rest in the Lord, she walks back in to hand us a free spicy chicken sandwhich coupon. We were able to pray for her day and her daughter that is working in new york.

Shortly after that, there was a police officer that came in and we try to buy them breakfast when we see them. It almost always results in an opportunity to get to pray for some pretty tough individuals on the exterior. They are always open to this and in fact have been incredibly grateful for the breakfast and the prayer! This day the officer blessed us in sharing how God had saved his life just last year. Our faith was grown hearing his story how the doctors didn't believe he would survive the staff infection and that following a prayer rally in his room, one miracle after another began as God saved this man's life to the amazement of his doctors. We bowed our heads together praising God for saving our bother's life and for giving him this testimony to encourage others with.

That seemed like enough for one morning, but God wasn't through. After we ended our time in prayer together, a lady sitting near lit up like a Christmas tree when one of the men at our table made eye contact with her. He went and said good morning to her and she gushed about how blessed she was to see people praying together in a restaurant. That it helped her to be reminded to trust in the Lord. My friend did what we had already done twice, asked if there was anything we could pray for her with this morning. She indicated that she was really struggling financially to make it to next week. My one friend had been to the ATM machine the night before, and was able to help meet her need financially.

My friends had to get to work so after we prayed for her, I was left visiting with this sweet lady who seemed lonely and sorrowful for the sins in her past that still had impact on her life today. I didn't have even a dollar in my wallet to give to her financial need, but I did have a loving family at home I could share with her. I felt the nudge from the Lord to walk in allowing God to show his reckless love through me and my family.

This was getting much more personal and complicated....just the way the Lord is with us. He pursues us with the reckless love of the father in the story of the prodigal son and desires for us to allow him to reveal this love through us to others. Jesus Christ left heaven, being seated at the right hand of His Father and all of His glory, to become personal to all of us and it got complicated. When the people turned against Him it became personal and complicated. When I informed my wife in the midst of her extra busy day that I had invited a lonely woman I met at Chic-fil-a over for dinner. It got personal and complicated, LOL!

We had this sweet lady come for dinner and my wife was loving and gracious to her, my kids overwhelmed her with hugs and kisses that touched her deeply. I ended up cooking the meal and doing all of the dishes afterward, to make it work in our schedule. I needed to see all of this to better understand that I need to be reckless in my love to others, but also to my own family! Allowing God to reveal His reckless love through me as his humbled servant is one of the most exciting parts of being a follower of "The Reckless Loving Father!"

Lord help me to love without always considering what it will cost me personally. Help me to humbly reveal your reckless heart to my family and to the world so desperate to know you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our greatest friend and foe

If you are like me, you struggle with being self reliant throughout the course of your day. It is easy to hit the ground running and not be fully dependent upon Christ working in and through me each day. Especially when I am doing something that I have done many times before and I pretty much know what to expect. Maintaining a mindset and lifestyle of dependence on Christ is a struggle for me.

It is cool when pieces of the puzzle come together. I started reading C.J. Mahaney's book, "Humility: True Greatness" and started to see more of my struggle as being the symptoms of pride. In the book Mahaney quoted John Stott's definition of pride as being "contending for the supremacy of God." God has used that to reveal how my pride tries to separate me from the Lord and His Grace as I contend for the supremacy of God in my own life. Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. My greatest foe really is my pride and my greatest friend is humility before Christ.

I had already seen that God's grace eliminates the opportunity for pride. If we receive that which we don't deserve, then how can anyone but the Lord receive the credit and glory. Pride and grace cannot coexist, and thus Grace eliminates pride. I thought I understood this, but I didn't see the other side of the coin, that my pride was trying to eliminate grace. As I contend for the supremacy of God I am also trying to eliminate my "need" for grace. When I begin my day self reliant and not trembling at His word, I am trying to eliminate my "need" for grace. When I attempt so many things in my own strength I have already eliminated my "need" for grace. That is probably why every religion that has every been created by man is based on works not grace. Our pride works deceptively on our hearts and minds to lead us down the path where we seek self sufficiency and satisfaction apart from the grace given fellowship with Christ. No wonder Paul writes in Romans 7, what a wretched man I am, who can save me from this body of death. He saw clearly all that he was able to take credit for was his pride.

That brings me to the next 2 by 4 that I was hit with. I recognize that I struggle with pridefulness that shows itself in different ways when "real sin" shows up in my life. So often I determine that the solution to this sin problem is ME doing more, trying harder, doubling down on my efforts. What a joke! My pride of self reliance and contending for the supremacy of God in my life is going to be solved by.....greater self reliance and determination? It is like having a major cut on my leg that was a self inflicted wound and trying to solve this problem by making a bigger cut higher up the leg with the same knife to stop the bleeding. Well the lower cut will stop bleeding, but I now have a bigger problem that is an even greater threat to take my life. I am in desperate need of God's grace and my pride often places God in the position of opposing me instead of giving grace. Opposing my spiritual adultery/self worship that separates me from the very thing that I need the most.....The Grace of God working to conform me more into the image of Christ.

I am left with the words of John the Baptist that I must decrease and he must increase! By God's grace, I pray that there would be less of me and more of Him for the world to see today to the praise of His glorious grace...........that none may boast.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A reckless love

I have been studying the story of the prodigal son. This passage has so come alive for me that it is often on my mind throughout the day. I love when the Lord is revealing Himself and His heart to us in these ways. I am having an OCD moment. Overwhelming Christ Disturbance. The story in Luke 15 is commonly referred to as the story of the Prodigal Son. I see the message of the gospel is that in the face of our pride filled pursuits that God has pursued us with a gracious, overwhelming, abounding, reckless love! We even pridefully think the story is about us, when it is all about God. The first parable wasn't about the sheep, it was about the shepherd, the second parable wasn't about the coin, it was about the woman looking for it. The third parable isn't about either of the lost sons, it is about the father who graciously loves His sons. It is exciting to see God working and overwhelming me and others with His gracious love. What joy we should have in sharing this story with others and see it begin tearing down their walls built up by pride.

I was at the pool today with the kids when a lady who owns a bar was pointed out to me, by an old friend, as being somebody who, "you know, really needs the Lord." It is comments like this that spur me on even more to share the incredible love of Christ, to replace the rejection and possible condemnation that was there before. I visited with her for a while and found out a little of the story that has led her and her family from Chicago to live in Tomball. As we visited she shared that she had been struggling with her health and hadn't been to work in a couple weeks. I told her that I felt God putting it on my heart to pray for her and asked her if that would be ok. She said it was fine, to which I asked is it ok if I could pray right now, which also received the response of, "its fine." I began praying for her physical healing from the great physician when I found myself boldly praying for her desire to be spiritually healed and restored to the Lord. I don't remember everything I said, but praying that the gracious love of God would work out her healing and restoration was some of what I prayed. After finishing the prayer I looked again towards the face that was once a hardened shell now softened by tears flowing down her cheeks. As soon as I finished her two sons walked up and there was awkwardness as she hurriedly regained her composure. They left shortly after, but it was amazing to see the battering ram of God's grace hit against the walls around a heart, only to see God's grace abound even more.....

That None May Boast Eph 2:8-9

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