Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Life, experience, and experts all tell us that we soak up the values of the people that surround us--that we will never rise higher, go deeper, or become better than our associations. If that is true, and all I have seen, including the Word of God itself, tells me it is, then my future has the opportunity to be really bright. I have SUPER friends and associates, all prodding me to greatness! Look at just a quick sampling on the things posted on FACEBOOK and email this morning.

Is your give bigger than your get?

In the game of life it's a good idea to have a few early losses which relieves you of the pressure of trying to an undefeated season.

"Just because it is, doesn't mean it should be."

Objects and Problems in our reflective past are larger than they appear. When visiting my childhood home today, I was amazed that NOT only is the house smaller, so is the whole neighborhood! God said "No problem or situation is as big as you have made it out to be" I't's NOT as big as you have made it out to be! Gods Got IT!

Mother Teresa Quotes
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.
I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

"Lord, make me a crisis man. Let me not be a mile-post on a single road, but make me a fork that men must turn one way or another in facing Christ in me." -- Jim Elliot

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Great Exploit

“…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do great exploits.” Daniel 11:32 (KJV)

I have been thinking a lot lately about big goals, big dreams---achieving God’s purposes for my life. I have been thinking about big challenges and getting big enough courage to face them and spend my life giving my best to beat them. To be specific, over the last couple of years God has been stirring a great dream in me. The issue is BIG, overwhelming, seemingly insurmountable. The church family of which I am a part is right in the middle of Coventry Township, and we are surrounded by a curious mixture of wealth and poverty. Our mission statement here is that we help people find the Father, a Family, and a Fulfilling Future. We do great at the first part, pretty good at the second part, but at the third part—helping people have a fulfilling future—we have a long ways to go. We try, and we do many good things. But there's no place to rest and check it off our list when so many people lack so much of what makes life fulfilling. It's a cop-out when we say that of course a person gets a fulfilling future when he or she accepts Christ as Savior—they get heaven! That is true, but the future God wants for His children begins much earlier than that.

Poverty is not part of God’s plan for his beloved creation. No—I do NOT believe in the prosperity gospel. I do not believe that when a person follows Christ fully, he or she will becomes rich. I do not believe that poverty is a sign of disobedience or disfavor. What I DO believe is that God’s perfect plan for his world has been broken by sin, and that currently we reside in a world that is entrenched in evil and self-centeredness. Poverty, it has been said, is often punishment for a crime you didn’t commit. Because of the brokenness and sin of our world for generations and generations, some nations, communities, and families are reaping harvests they didn’t plant. They may need special assistance over time to ever break out of the negative legacy. Believers have a special responsibility to step in and do whatever it takes to interrupt the cycle and help start people in a new direction. Matthew 25 records the words of Jesus showing that at the final judgment, how we invested in the least and last of these broken will be significant.

Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.” How do “good people “, caught in the cycle of despair and poverty, ever hit that kind of a target, something they would desire to do ? An inheritance is out of the question—barely eeking by with the basic necessities is the daily consuming goal. How does it ever change? Are some just blessed and others just disadvantaged? “As it was, is now and ever shall be?” Is it ok just to do what we can? Give when we find extra, share a hand-out here and there, charity at holidays?

No. NO. NO. That’s not an acceptable response for a Christ-follower. We follow One who was so consumed by OUR poverty that He willingly put aside His unimaginable wealth and power that we might become rich (II Corinthians 8:9) Give-aways and charities are reasonable and good starting places, but that’s all. I can do that in bits and pieces and make some momentary happiness for someone without making a true investment. I NEED to do that. It's the basic call.

But as a Christ-follower, I am challenged to really consider what God is saying to me as an individual and us as a church in the face of a problem so massive, so entrenched, and so complicated that we feel helpless to confront it. To make a difference, to give opportunities for others to have a fulfilling future, means that I must make, we must make significant sacrifice. Sharing whatever I have with those in need is the response of a grateful, thinking heart, and it gives opportunity for a new cycle to begin. We have resources of more than money--we can teach skills, help find jobs, stand against injustice, mentor, help build relationships. I heard a Brazilian pastor say that the greatest thing a person in povertyu needs is friends--friends with resources and contacts, and a willingness to aggressively share.

It's a MASSIVE challenge...poverty has all kinds of evil surrounding it that cause it, fuel it, encourage it. But we can make a difference. When the prophet Daniel prophesied that trouble would come and mammoth enemies would abound, he responded with a great counter-attack: “…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do great exploits.” Daniel 11:32

Poverty in Coventry Township is a great enemy, a massive and entrenched evil. It would be a great exploit to attack and conquer it. Sounds like just the job for people who do know their God.

I'm up for it...

Pray for me. Pray with me. Let's go!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was my father's 88th birthday! 88 years of excellence--well, not actually. Dad told us last night at the family gathering that it was the prayers of his godly parents who brought him home to Jesus at age 28. So, giving him credit for a few excellent years as a child, I would say 60+ years of excellence would be fair. :-)

His father was an amazing man, as well. Godly to the core, and a lay preacher. He led in his community with the strength that only God's anointing and pure living can engender. He and my grandmother shared the Word, earnest prayer, sacrificial giving, and warm-hearted, generous living for nearly 70 years as a couple. My dad was called by God out of that kind of environment.

My dad has been a much-loved, godly pastor, pillar of any community where he has served. Dad and Mom have lived so consistently and sacrificially that they stand among the wonders of the world to me. They made serving Jesus and the people He loves look like the most amazing thing any person could do. From their home, both my brother Dwight and I were called to ministry.

Charlie and I have been in full-time ministry together since 1974. We are far from perfect, but are striving to live consistently, faithfully, and to give God the daily opportunity to love the world through us. To our grateful joy, two of our children are called, one serving full-time in ministry now, and the other workig part-time while on track to ordination. God is so good.

This week a godly Christian leader in the Akron community came to visit me at my office. We discussed the fact that two of my children were working with me. He said, "That is so wonderful--never let anyone make you feel less than proud and delighted about that! Whenever a pastor's home and life is what it is supposed to be, it is likely that at least one of the children will respond to the call of God to serve as a 'priest' to God." It's the principle of the priesthood---the calling of God in the Bible did not remain limited to the tribe of the Levites. When Christ came, anyone could be called to follow and serve. But there was a special responsibility given to the tribe where the priesthood began to hold high the calling and live it attractively and faithfully.

This man told me it is a great gift to have your children follow you in ministry. I believe it. And I am grateful. I am praying that I will live up to my heritage and calling, and that my children and grandchildren will have a clearly marked, wise path to follow.