Quite an Honor

Another great day in Africa! After two full days of leadership conferences and worship experiences and outreach to the communities children, we decided to take the morning to do a boat tour of lake Kibuye.

Last year we had the same boatman, and while we were on the tour last year he gave his life to Jesus. 

As we were enjoying the tour today, John Paul told my friend Rindero he made that commitment last year and wanted me to Baptize him.

What an honor he waited for me to return and ask me to baptize him. I said absolutely yes! 

The tour was over and I ran to my room changed clothes and came back. By the time all that happened, his fellow boatman had made a decision as well and wanted to be baptized also. So I of course was very honored and obliged.

We decended into the beautiful lake Kivu and there in a spontaneous act of faith I had the privilege of being a part of their very public profession of faith.

It was like living in the bible. Right there in the lake standing right by their boats they died to themselves to live for God.

They were somber and sincere, and theit fresh start has begun.

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Wandering, Worthless, and Wasted

Luke 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the bible. Jesus was attracting all kinds of people outside the religious realm and it was upsetting the theological apple cart of the religious leaders of the day in the Jewish community.

If He was a leader, a Rabbi, then interacting on a social level with “those people” was out of the question. So they complained to each other, saying, “he receives sinners and eats with them.” So in response to their complaint he did what was so often his way. He told a story. Three stories actually. All very good stories.

The first was about a lost sheep. He told the story of a sheapherd who had 100 sheep, but 1 had lost its way. He relayed to them that this sheapherd left the 99 sheep and went after the one. The implication here being that there are those who wander. How does a lost sheep get lost? Distraction, separation, isolation, usually when someone is lost they simply went wandering. It happens so easy. There are so many things to distract us, and we easily lose our way. We come to ourselves at some point, usually when caught in the thorn bushes, and say “how did I get here, I’m lost.”

The Next story is equally poignant. A woman had 10 coins but lost 1. Its believed that the 1 coin was worth about a days wage. The story goes that she lost it but it had so much value to her that she made a thorough search for it. She wanted it back in a serious way. She turned the house upside down to find that coin. The interesting thing about a lost coin, and is so true of our lives as well, is inherent value. A coin holds in itself a real value, just as we have incredible value to God, to the those around us, to our own families. No matter what happens in our lives our value still exists. Even more interesting is that no matter how much value a coin has if its lost its worthless. It can not be used for that which it was created. It can have incredible value but if its lost it has no worth.

The third and last story is one of the single most compelling accounts in scripture. It is the story of “The Prodigal Son” We all know this story, we have heard it from many different perspectives and in different ways, but we always come back tot he fact that there was a rebellious son, who left his fathers house to pursue selfish desires, and after a time hit rock bottom and returned in humility to his father and the father compassionately and enthusiastically received him home. What this story is about is the idea of waisted potential. The waist of living life for self. The waste of taking our blessing and squandering it among those who feign love but in truth are friends for fun sake, not friends of faithfulness. Its about waste. The waste of a life filled to the brim with potential, yet spilled out over bad choices and wrong thinking. Most importantly it is about the idea that failure is not final, that potential wasted can be redeveloped and deployed, that forgiveness is more powerful than betrayal.

The object of all of these stories seem to be the wandering, worthless and wasted. The Sheep, the coin, and the son. I truly believe that real object of these stories are the sheapherd, the woman, and the father. Reason being, Jesus nature, His love for those “outside the circle” was in question. He was being challenged that his desire to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel was missing the mark. So these stories while stating the fact of humanity, the way we wander, the way we lose worth as we lay lost in the dark shadows of the corners of the room, and how mankind has a tendency to run from the freedom of surrender. The focus of the story were the owners of the sheep, coin and son. Most importantly the way they responded.

The Sheapherd left the 99 sheep to go after the 1. Regardless of why the distraction or what caused the sheep to be lost it was lost all the same and needed to be found, because that one sheep was as important to the sheapherd as everyone else. He did not respect or love the other “non distracted” sheep anymore than the 1. He lovingly picked the sheep up, and carried it back to the fold. What a compassionate Sheapherd we have in Jesus.

The woman, becomes almost hysterical in her attempt to find the coin. Knowing that the value of the coin was in its being found, and knowing that its worth was being lost. She refused to give up and was willing to turn everything over to find it. When she found it she through a huge celebration, because the valuable coin had worth again. What a loving Creator we have in Jesus who made us valuable and wont let us lose our worth and will do anything to retain our worth.

Most importantly the father who was obviously waiting on his “prodigal-wasted” son to come home. When he sees him, embraces him, immediately forgives his rebellion, but will not hear of any solution that will not mean full reinstatement of full rights and identity in the family of God. He Kiss him, he clothes him, and he takes what was a waste and renewed it to its rightful potential and accepted the son back confessing in loud tones. My son was dead, he is alive, he was lost now he is found.

So I encourage you, if you want to know that love of your Heavenly Father today, go and look at Luke 15, instead of focusing on the wandering, worthless, and wasted, turn your eyes on the Sheapherd, the woman, and the Father. If you happened to be found then take on the spirit of your father and lovingly find someone else, if you happen to be lost run to your father He’s waiting.

Before the Ride is Over

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As soon as we arrived in the lake side community yesterday a young man begin to ask if we wanted to go on a boat tour of the islands. We said we might. He got the number of our host and called us several times that night asking what time we would like the cruise.

He was quite a salesman. After the meetings yesterday we came out and there he was waiting on us and asked if we were going to go on the tour.

We finally said we would. I told the guys we should have told him we will go on your tour but we want you to come to the meeting. I saw it as a missed opportunity. Pastor Eddy said don’t worry before this tour is over He will know Jesus.

The young man was about 25 had a wife and a four year old. We didn’t know it but his wife had been attending pastor eddy’s church and bringing their son and had been born again.

So eddy sets by him, the tour was about 45 minutes to an hour. Eddy explained to him the difference between religion and actually having a personal relationship with Jesus. Being born again. In the middle of the ride pastor eddy shouts to the front of the boat he has given his life to Christ. We looked back and the young man was standing, clapping his hands and smiling ear to ear.

By the time the ride was over they had worked out when he would be water baptized and connected him to the church and exchanged numbers.

It was the single most effective evangelistic effort I’ve ever seen. Which leads me to say, American church stop complicating it, let’s make up our mind to do it, and then maybe before this ride called life is over we will have reached them all.

Joy to the World!

Joy to the world the Lord is come, let earth receive her king, let every heart prepare him room, let heaven and nature sing, let heaven and nature sing, let heaven and nature sing.

I read these words and ask myself how aware are we of the plan of salvation today? The whole purpose of God becoming man in a humble and lowly way to be a true propitiation for our sins.

In this world of cultural and moral relativism and the perpetuation of political correctness which is tolerant of seemingly everything accept Christianity. I want to, with loving passion and compassion, say earth receive your king, people make room for Him in your heart. He loves us, became one of us, gave himself for us, and is the fulfillment of Gods love our purpose and the meaning of life.

Joy will not come by the pacification of immorality or the attempt of man to be God or of the acquiring the most stuff. Joy comes from knowing who was sent to us by the deceleration, “Joy to the World!”

By the very act of His being sent, joy accompanied Him. To accept Him is to have Joy. Not a mere happy feeling of emotion but a deep fulfillment and deep spiritual assurance of peace in our heart.

Thank you Jesus for your love, compassion, humility, care and kingship. Because you first loved me I love you.

If you don’t know Jesus today, Ask him to reveal himself to you. Ask him to forgive your sins, confess Him as your lord and savior and receive His gift of grace. He loves you. Make room the king wants to live with you.

I Got Soul

Psalm 103:1-3 (msg) A Psalm Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases

This verse has in recent years become one of my favorites. It speaks to me in many ways.

1. The way David takes charge of His life by talking to himself. Sometimes we act as if our responses and reactions to life and it’s circumstances just happen to us. What I see here is David says to himself, “soul” bless God. Do you ever find your emotions running away with you, or your attitude become negative? It’s in those moments that you can stop and say “Soul” bless God. It’s a choice a decision to choose the right path.

2. He says forget not His benefits. This reminds me of Hebrews 11:6 “without faith it is possible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”. Don’t ever forget who God is, how good, powerful, great and present He is in your situation. He wants to help and bless you. There are true benefits I’m this relationship we have with our God and Christ.

3. he says God forgives ALL our iniquities and HEALS ALL our diseases.

I love the use of the word all in this passage. All meaning everything included. All kinds, all times, past present and future, big and small. ALL!

He also says in one statement just like He forgives our sins, He heals our disease. All the things that are a part of the curse of sin on this earth are dealt with in the atonement, and as much as He accomplished one He accomplished the other.

God is good! Only believe!

Knock Knock, Who’s There?

Colossians 4:3 (msg) Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail.

I love this scripture, it truly gives us insight on the attitude we should have about sharing our faith.

First we see that this is priority one for Paul, and he includes other Christians who are praying for him. He’s making it clear this is of paramount importance to our faith.

Second, one of the greatest challenges people have in sharing their faith is an open opportunity. He shows us how prayer plays a part in those opportunities. Praying for open doors works, but when we pray for open doors we must have a mindset to walk through those doors.

And last he makes it clear there is no excuse for not sharing our faith. He says, even though I’m in jail I’m believing for open doors to share my faith. He is saying no matter what our circumstances are, sharing our faith is why we are here and what we should do.

So today realize someone needs you to make sharing your faith priority one, their eternity depends on it. Pray for an open door opportunity and walk through that door, and make no excuses, just do it, it is the most important part of our Christianity.

What doors are you knocking on?