On Mission

Seeking to Be a Disciple and Make Disciples

The Reason for the World

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On a recent Sunday morning, I sat around a table communing with the Lord and with my parents. I find power in sharing the Lord’s Supper table with my family.  As we took the Lord’s Supper together, I shared with Mom and Dad a song that I recently found that has been instructive and comforting to me. It is a contemporary Christian song written by Matthew West, entitled, The Reason for the World. . My parents have a strong faith and continue to live their life with faithfulness and service to others. They have often told me that “growing old is not for sissies.” I am doing my best to listen and learn, so I can follow their example of courage as they find meaning in the twilight years of their life. As we face transitions and challenges in our lives, the temptation is to ask, “why?” I have fallen into the same trap and come up empty handed trying to find answers to the purpose of the difficult times of life.

There are no words in times like these.

No comfort in the greeting card
‘Cause God is good
But life’s still hard
And your heart just wants a reason for the world

But maybe the reason for the pain
Is so we would pray for strength
And maybe the reason for the strength
Is so that we would not lose hope
And maybe the reason for all hope
Is so that we could face the world
And the reason for the world
Is to make us long for home, home, home,

For God so loved your broken heart
He sent his son to where you are
And he died
To give a reason for the world

So lift your sorrows to the one
Whose plan for you has just begun
And rests here in the hands that hold the world

‘Cause maybe the reason for the pain
Is so we would pray for strength
And maybe the reason for the strength
Is so that we would not lose hope
And maybe the reason for all hope
Is so that we could face the world
And the reason for the world
Is to make us long for home

Well I know your past the point of broken
Surrounded by your fear
I know you’re faint and tired and lonely
From the road that you walked down here
But just keep your eyes on heaven
And know that you are not alone
Remember the reason for the world

No ear has heard
No eye has seen
Not even in your wildest dreams
The beauty that awaits beyond this world
When you look into the eyes of grace
And hear the voice of mercy say
Child, welcome to the reason for the world

Is it possible that the ultimate goal in life is not just to arrive in heaven? Is it possible that God’s purpose through both the joys and sorrows of life is to transform us into the image of Christ? Is it possible that the reason for the world is to prepare us for continual service in God’s reign. When I was younger, I would think of heaven as “eternal rest.” I have to confess that seemed boring to me. One of the greatest blessings that God gives us is a reason for our existence, a purpose for being.  And the reason for the world is to prepare us to serve and glorify our Father for eternity.

Why Did You Leave Us Like This?

Many People Thinking of QuestionsLast year, I visited St. Petersburg, Russia with Phil Jackson.  We were invited to facilitate a dialogue around the concept of “Disciples Who Make Disciple Makers.”  A Russian minister made a statement followed by a question.  He stated, “The foreign missionaries came in the early 1990′s and baptized many.  They often did not stay long and left us.  However, when the missionaries left, many of those who had been baptized also left.”  He then asked the question, “Have you done a study of why those baptized did not stay?”  It was a penetrating and insightful question.  The simple answer is “no I have not done a detailed study of that particular question.”  However, I could not easily dismiss the question.  One brother from America also attending the conference rephrased the question in regards to what he was hearing.  The question was actually, “Why did you leave us like this?”  You came, you taught us the good news of Jesus and you left us.  We did not do well after you left.  Why did you leave us like this?”  The question continues to haunt me.

I don’t have the answers, but here are some thoughts.  I have come to understand that my understanding of what we call “The Great Commission” has been inadequate.  I hear and understand that I am to go into this world and as I am going, I am to “make disciples.”  I am to help them to see Jesus and bring them into a relationship with God.  Those who believe are to be baptized into the possession of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  My heritage has helped me place a high value on the importance of this step of faith.  However, for years, I misquoted Matthew 28:19-20.  I  might have said it correctly, “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” However, I have lived out the Great Commission as if Jesus said, “teaching them everything I have commanded.”  Don’t get me wrong, knowledge is vitally important.  But in my ministry, I have assumed knowledge equals transformation.  Yet, that is not the case.  Jesus says, everyone “who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 ESV).  Disciples are those who listen to Jesus and obey Him.  Disciple-makers are those who teach followers of Jesus to hear and do.  Perhaps the problem lies in our misunderstanding or misapplication of The Great Commission.

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I listened to a Russian church leader’s response as I asked him why he thought that the Russian churches generally did not do well after the missionaries left.  He had three answers:  1) we were not taught to develop a deep relationship with and trust in God chance to listen, learn and reset our minds toward making disciples that make disciples.  There are no easy answers, but it seems that building deeper international partnership upon trust is a good way forward.  Together perhaps we can focus on what matters, hearing and obeying Jesus.d, 2) we did not accept personal responsibility for the evangelization of our own people, and 3) we were not taught the importance of being and making disciples.  As I listened and as he shared, I suppose we should have responded to this conversation with discouragement, regret and sadness.  However, the exact opposite took place.  The conversation inspired, encouraged and motived us.  We realized that in a real global partnership, we have a second chance to listen, learn and reset our minds toward making disciples that make disciples.  There are no easy answers, but it seems that building deeper international partnership upon trust is a good way forward.  Together perhaps we can focus on what matters, hearing and obeying Jesus.

Why Do We Exist?

I have the blessing of working with churches that are seeking to be on mission with God, and there are four questions which are important to always keep before us. They should be asked by all followers of Jesus and Christian communities who want to join God in His work here.

I was assisting a group of elders and ministers from a congregation and they had gathered college professors and leaders in order to gain insight on the value of two new ministries they planned to launch. They did not want to start both at the same time and were asking advice on which would be the most beneficial for their church. One quiet, reflective college professor boldly stated, “Before you answer which ministry to begin, I think your need to ask yourself whether your church has a reason to exist!” Needless to say, most were confused and a bit shocked – they simply did not understand. The way he worded the statement almost sounded as if the college professor believed this particular church should close its doors. Perhaps that was the point he was trying to make, but I don’t think so. Most did not understand the statement and went on to more “productive and practical discussions.” As I think back to this encounter, I see that the statement might have not been well worded and most certainly was not well received; however, it did point the group to the right question.

As a follower of Jesus, the first question we must ask is why do we exist? Why are we here? What is our purpose? Generally, when Christians are asked, “what is your goal in life” the typical answer is “I want to make it to heaven!” I have answered the question in the same way, but that now seems to be incredibly short-sighted. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly want to be in heaven with Jesus and the rest of you! However, I don’t think that should be my ultimate goal or even the answer to the question of why I exist. God’s word seems to make it clear that our reason for existence is to glorify God. Paul keeps repeating this clearly in Ephesians, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:11, 12 ESV). Jesus tells you who you are in Him. You are the salt and the light of the world and are to let your good works be seen by men “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 ESV).

This life of being salt and light is not just something to hold on until we can make it to heaven. If I am merely waiting for that, why not just “beam me up, Scotty” after I put my faith in Jesus and was united with him in baptism? What is the reason for my existence between the beginning of my faith and the return of Jesus to take me to be with Him? The answer is found in what some call The Great Interchange. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). Jesus became what we are, in order that we might become what His is.” Our desire is to be more like Jesus today than we were yesterday. As Paul compared our life in Christ with that of Moses being in the presence of God he declared, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV). As we grow in our understanding of God’s call in our life, we realize that our reason for existence means giving glory to God and being transformed into the image of His Son. This also becomes our motivation for ministry, to see Christ formed in the life of others. Paul shared his heart for the churches in Galatia, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19, NIV). The words resonate with truth, “until Christ is formed in you.” So, we are to glorify God, become like Jesus and help others do the same.

I mentioned that there are four questions we should constantly address as children of God and as communities of faith. Perhaps you are curious about the other three questions. Churches should ask themselves: 1) Why do we exist? 2) What values (core beliefs) are driving us? 3) Where do we envision God leading us? and 4) What steps do we need to take in order to join God in this journey? The last three questions are for another discussion; however, before we move on too quickly, it is imperative that we wrestle with the answer to the first question. Do you know why you are here?

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Which Superhero is Your Favorite?

I have to be honest, I am not sure that I get the whole superhero fad. I know I am probably alone in my confusion, but I just don’t get all of the Superman, Iron Man, Thor, Avenger movies. I do remember as a child donning a towel as a cape and jumping off the foot-high ledge of our fireplace. My superhero growing up was Daniel Boone. My sister knew that to really “get to me” all she would have to say was “Daniel Boone is a sissy, yes a real sissy” to the tune of the theme song of the Daniel Boone show. I don’t know why I liked him so much, perhaps it was the cool coon skinned hat he wore. Or perhaps it was the fact that he was “blazing new trails.” Daniel Boone had no cool superpowers. I guess I just like ordinary people who do extraordinary things. I look up to the real person, who through their faithfulness and persistence, accomplish what others think impossible.

Using that definition, I have a couple of new “superheroes.” They are officially my “in-laws,” although I really never use that term to describe them. To me they are friends and coworkers in the kingdom. Doug and Sandy Holcomb just returned from spending 17 years in Cuernavaca, Mexico as missionaries. They returned to be with their physical family, yet they left behind a large spiritual family in Mexico. Before working in Mexico, they spent six years in The Philippines. After their kids were grown and out of the house they went through the Sunset School of Preaching and formed a team for Manila. Again, they returned to be with family as grandchildren were beginning to be born. However, they could not stay away from the pull of people of a different culture who needed Jesus. They faithfully worked in Cuernavaca providing stability while other missionaries came and left; they loved on people through their gracious hospitality; they became masters of ministering to people in a small group setting, sharing the word and committing needs to prayer; they mentored young marriages and families. They leave a large part of their heart with our Mexican brothers and sister. I don’t know many people who do not have a great love and respect for Doug and Sandy. No, I take that back, I don’t know of anyone that has not seen the love of Jesus in them after spending just a few minutes with the Holcombs.

So, I may not really get the whole superhero thing, but I do see the world-wide impact of the steadfast life of a servant. I see the powerful sermon preached through the lives of a loving couple sharing Jesus with others. Perhaps it is too much to call them “my new superheroes.” I think I will just call them friends. Thank you Doug and Sandy for your wonderful example!

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Why I Can’t Walk on The Grass

SJ20001373AfixOn my run this morning, I was on a trail that went past my cut off and then cut back to join the trail I wanted to follow. I thought about cutting across the grass to save the extra strides. However, I just could not do that, even though it would be easier. Why you ask? I asked myself the same question and smiled.

My father was the Jr. High principle while I tried to survive my Jr. High years. Sometimes, this fact helped; but often it didn’t – as I’m sure you can you can imagine. Our Junior High school building in Friona had sidewalks that were laid out in a rectangle with large areas of grass and trees in the middle. During lunch break, the favorite activity of students was to walk around in groups (or as a couple, IF you were lucky or brave). Of course, as people do, many would cut the corners and walk on the grass. However, no one did that too many times until Principal Tom B. Jarboe (a.k.a. Dad) saw the perpetrator and made sure that did not happen again. Most students thought it was a silly rule and probably didn’t understand. But my Dad respected the work of our grounds keepers and enjoyed having green grass in front of the school. He felt a strong sense of pride in taking care of our blessings. A small item, perhaps, but somewhere he had learned that if we did not take care of the small things we would not take care of the big things – those things that really matter in our life and surroundings.

To this day, I still cannot cut the corners and walk across the grass without looking over my shoulder to make that my principle is not watching. Ok, I may not look any more, but I just don’t walk across the grass. It is small and insignificant to most, but very significant to me. It serves as a reminder of the larger matters of integrity that my father instilled within me, my sister, our spouses, the grandchildren and so many others who were blessed to fall under his influence. So I will keep taking the extra steps, not walking on the grass, as I remember the great blessing of a loving father filled with character and integrity.

 

Four Eternal Truths

Foundational Truths for Our Understanding of Missions

 Our understanding of missions is rooted in the nature and identity of God. The more we understand God and His nature, the more clearly we see our mission in the world. Four eternal truths help us establish a strong theological underpinning for our mission activity.

  • God is a Missionary God. Our Creator is one who sends and is sent. “For God so loved the world that he gave [sent] his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God called Abram to leave his country, his people and his home, so that He could bless all peoples on earth through him (Genesis 12:1-3). Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt declaring, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:4-7). God now sends His church to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).  Jesus, the Son came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). We have been created in God’s image. Those restored to His image are sent into the world to fulfill His mission.
  • God Calls His Servants to Join Him in His Mission. “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).  Only God can provide the increase, yet He calls us to plant and water. I am always amazed when I hear that God has called me to be His “fellow worker” in His mission. This understanding motivates me not to ask the Lord to bless what I am doing but rather to ask Him to involve me in what He is blessing.
  • The World is In Need of a Savior. The statement may not be “politically correct,” but without Christ we are lost and separated from our God. Jesus looked upon the multitude and was moved with compassion because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. His Messianic ministry then becomes our ministry of preaching, teaching and healing; bringing the love of Christ to the needs of the world. The cry of those separated from Christ calls us to “ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest field “(Matthew 9:35-38).
  • Jesus Promised to Build His Church. Jesus affirms, “…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Our role is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20); Jesus will take those disciples and build His church. It is not an either or proposal, but rather a “both and.”  Yet, we must not overstep our role. Jesus builds his church. I have spent too much time trying to “build the church,” without understanding that is God’s role. I am to equip others to be his obedient followers and He takes these disciples and builds them into His church. We must not fear, doubt or question this clear promise of God.

 

As we struggle to grasp the nature and character of God and His kingdom, we gain a deeper understanding of our identity and role which is rooted in eternal truths that do not change with time, culture or generations.

First Things First

One of the most significant questions we ask is “Why are we here? Why do we exist? What is our ultimate purpose in life?”  I don’t propose to have a “lock” on the answer to those eternal questions, but those questions point to the issue of priority. What is our most important purpose in life? In the past, l have answered this question with the statement, “We are to share the good news of Jesus with the world.” Mission or evangelism was the number one priority in my mind. However, several years ago, I allowed the word of God to change my perspective on what is the “first thing” in the life of a Christian. God himself identifies his priority which must become my priority.

Look at Isaiah 48:9-11. Israel has once again been rebellious. God is about to bring His wrath against Israel. He says, “For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you…For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”  God’s priority was for His name to be glorified throughout his creation.  God’s priority becomes our priority.  Our purpose in life is to glorify God.

Jesus reminds us of our identity.  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven(Matthew 5:13-16). Our reason for existence is to glorify our Heavenly Father.

If we are putting first things first, we must remember that we are to glorify the Lord in all that we do.  When we have these priorities out of place missions can actually become an idol. We can actually allow what we define as “missions” to become “the Lord” and allow ourselves to be motivated to let the end justify the means. The reason that we are involved in missions around the globe is so that God might be glorified. Somewhere in a hut or a hamlet, in a heart or a home, God is not being glorified. Let’s be the presence and the witness of God’s good news, so that He will be praised everywhere. May we live in such a way that God is always glorified.  1 Corinthians 10:31.

The Rebel Jesus

For several years, Jackson Browne and I have been “mowing buddies.” I know you have never thought of Jackson Browne as being involved in lawn care and some of you have never thought of Jackson Browne at all. I listened to his music during my college years and now have a habit of listening to him as I am mowing the lawn. One of my favorite songs by Jackson Browne is “The Rebel Jesus;” a Christmas song.  I am not a Scrooge or a Grinch. I enjoy the Christmas season.  I get excited when Starbucks starts serving coffee in their red Christmas cups and I’m always a little sad when Christmas is over. Our family has had a great time this Christmas. We, like others, are becoming more reflective as a year ends and a new one begins. Unfortunately, during the holiday season we often allow consumerism and materialism to control our thoughts and our activities. This is where Jackson Browne comes into the picture. The rebel in me says life should be characterized by simplicity, service and giving to others. As a new year begins, I need to be reminded of the importance of being a “rebel” in a consumer driven society. I need to be reminded that the Jesus I follow is in fact a rebel and goes against the flow of today’s culture.

The Rebel Jesus

Lyrics by Jackson Browne

 

All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants’ windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
While the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tables
Giving thanks for God’s graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call him by ‘the Prince of Peace’
And they call him by ‘the Savior’
And they pray to him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in him increases
But they’ve turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber’s den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

Well we guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

Now pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgment
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
There’s a need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

A Simple Prayer

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  James 5:16

It was just a simple prayer, but it communicated more than words alone could ever express. Our daughter, Meagan is in her final year of medical school and doing her rotations in various specialties at Texas Tech University Health Science Center.  I was in Lubbock to help our son, Ryan move in to a house after returning from Italy. As we were working, Meagan said, “Daddy, I have a favor to ask you. Would you go to the hospital with me to pray with a man in Spanish?” She explained, that a man in MICU and his family had been asking for a Spanish-speaking priest who could pray with them. They had been able to find a priest but he only spoke English.  I couldn’t refuse my daughter’s caring request.

Meagan entered the room first and told the patient that I was a minister who spoke Spanish and would like to pray with him. She asked permission to tell me the details of his medical condition. She explained to me that he was in his 50’s and had a terminal illness. He had never been in the hospital before. We put on gloves and gowns before we entered his room.  Two family members were with him and I asked permission to read and pray with him. He could not talk but shook his head, “yes.”  I read Psalms 23 and prayed for healing, peace, faith and grace.

I learned a couple of lessons in those few short minutes.  First, I was taught by the faith, compassion and persistence of my daughter. As I prayed, she looked into the patient’s eyes and said she could only see fear. We both were touched by his desire to have a connection to his Creator at this time full of uncertainty.  It is true that no matter where we have been in life, when we come face to face with our mortality, we search for our Heavenly Father. The second thing that I was reminded of was the power of a simple prayer in one’s heart language.   He could not talk but his request spoke volumes. I don’t know his standing in his relationship with the Lord. I will let the Lord be the judge.  However, the patient’s request reminded me everyone’s need to hear from and be heard by their Father.

 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:13-16

Lessons Learned with LST in Romania

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I try to always be alert to the lessons that the Lord is teaching me each day. However, I have to admit, I am often a very poor student. I tend to a better student when I am in a new culture and meeting new people. Here are a few lessons I learned during our recent Let’s Start Talking project in Sfantu Gheorghe, Romania. 

  • The Power of the Story of Jesus – I often fall into the trap of believing that the word of God needs my help. I unfortunately am tempted to put more trust in my illustrations, explanations and abilty to teach the word of God. The simple but powerful method we utilized in Romania was simply reading together from the Bible, the Story of Jesus. Questions, comments and discussions that took place during our reading sessions reminded me once again, I am simply a tool, a vessel, a jar of clay in God’s hands (2 Corinthians 4:7). The power is in the good news message that God has given to me (Romans 1:16-17). One of my readers was a young man named Gabriel (I have his permission to use his story). Gabriel is 17 and in his senior year of high school. He is from an Orthodox background. I was impressed with his spiritual insights. He shared with me his perspective of the “big story.” In his view various Christian groups may have their own story that may differ some, however he said, “We all share one big story that is most important.” I asked him to tell me the “big story.” He said, “it is exactly what we are reading about, the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He is the ‘big story.’”  I seem to have read that in Paul’s writings as well. Paul resolved to know nothing while he was with the Corinthians expect Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
  • The Importance of Relationships – One of the friends I met and read with for two weeks in Romania was a single woman who worked at night at the local newspaper. She sadly was estranged from her sister and would only see her mother briefly each week. She did not want to read at first thinking that her English was not good enough. I convinced her to give it a try. She understood more than she could speak. During a conversation about the “friends of Jesus.” I asked her about her friends. She said, “I do not have any friends. That is one of the reasons why I like coming to read with your group. I enjoy having someone to listen to me and to talk to each day.” I had fun with her as she could not stop laughing at her confusion over English numbers. I will continue to pray for her that she will come to know Jesus as her friend and as He brings her into a relationship with a loving family. I thought about hours we may spend in planning, strategizing, preparing and talking about reaching out to the world. Somewhere in all of that talk, I need to return to one on one relatiohships with people who just need a friend and need to be introduced to the Best of Friends. 
  • The Joy of Ministering with Family – My wife, Sherry works with Let’s Start Talking (LST) as their Project Site Coordinator. I have known of and partnered with LST for years. However, seeing more of the inside of the ministry, I have even gained a greater respect for this simple and powerful method of “sharing Jesus and sharing ourselves.” It is one method of helping people find a way to connect with others and share their faith in Jesus.  Our son, Ryan has been serving in Prato, Italy for the last year and a half as a part of the Adventures in Missions (AIM) program. Mike and Anto Mahan are the missionaries who coordiante Ryan’s work along with his four teammates. It has been a good and challenging experience for Ryan. Mike and Anto gave Ryan and his teammate, Josie Collins permission to join Sherry and I in the two week LST project.  It was a good experience for us all. Working, praying, cooking, planning and sharing together was an encouraging experience. We all took a step outside of our comfort zone and grew to be a little more like Jesus because of it. I have a wonderful wife who has been side-by-side with me through 28 years of marriage and ministry. God is blessing us at this stage of our life and family to find new ways to  challenge ourselves and grow in ministry together. 
  • The Strength of Faithful Christians – We worked with and met with the brothers and sisters of the Agape Church in Sfantu, Gheorghe. They may be small in number but they are faithful in spirit and in their walk with the Lord. We were encouraged by Maria as she would come by each day to read with Sherry. However, she only wanted to read if we had the time. She did not want to take the time away from someone else with whom we could be reading the gospe.l Stafan served us in multiple ways by picking us up in Bucharest, waiting for seven hours as one of our teammates flight was delayed and driving through the night so we could join the family of God on Sunday. As we sang in Romanian, Hungarian adn English with the church for the two Sundays we enjoyed being with them, I thought of the multitudes of faithful Christians around the globe, seeking to live faithfully as salt and light in a dark world. I was reminded that the only responsibilty of a steward entrusted with the story of Jesus is to be faithful to the task ( 1 Corinthians 4:1-5). We cannot control the results. We are simply to remain faithful to the task that God has given us. Learn the lessons along the way as God transforms us into His image. 

May I continue to allow these lessons to change me, transform me and conform me to the image of Jesus Christ. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to learn and grow with you.

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