Recently, Renie and I asked our ministry friends to consider supporting John 3:16 Mission to provide Thanksgiving Dinner for Tulsa's homeless. I am glad to report that our friends have sent over $1100.00 to help with feeding these folks!!
Probably the most surprising thing in this little endeavor was the reaction and support of one 10 year old boy.
When he heard about this project from his mom, who follows our ministry, he got excited. First, he came to her with his "piggybank-cash" in his hand. He then (completely on his own, according to his mom) went through his toys, found those that he felt he had outgrown, and proceeded to list them on Ebay and sold them.
He also asked his family members to support his efforts. One family member told him that whatever Nathan was able to raise, that he would match! This fellow had no idea what he was promising!
When all was said and done, little Nathan had raised over $500.00 on his own! The above-mentioned family member did add as much as he felt he could - to the tune of $300.00.
Here is a 10 year old boy, with his Dad battling cancer, who saw what he could do to help someone else. Maybe we adults should learn at the knee of one little boy. That anyone who cares enough can do something to help someone else who is hurting.
Thanks Nathan, for caring and sharing.
You just never know!
Sometimes you can be about your normal day - doing your normal thing - and then something out of the ordinary happens.
It was a drizzly Sunday morning and the fellow was driving his normal route for his church van ministry. As he drove along, he saw a couple of teenage boys walking near the street. After offering them a ride to get them out of the rain, he then asked to take them to his church for Sunday School and the worship service. They declined saying they were soaked, but then agreed when the driver told them that he would take them home, run his route and come back by to pick them up.
Sure enough, they were dry, dressed, and ready when the van came by. The driver took them to Sunday School and worship that day, where the rest of the youth group accepted the boys and seemed to make them feel welcome.
During the service, one of the boys listened very intently. As the invitation began, the visiting preacher said that he would be glad to talk with anyone who would step out and come forward. Suddenly Antonio stepped into the aisle, made his way to the preacher and told him that he needed God in his life. The minister walked him through some simple questions regarding his condition. and after just a few minutes, Antonio claimed Christ as his Savior.
You just never know the impact you can have when you are open to something God may have orchestrated… in this case: rain, an open hearted church van driver, some friendly teens that welcomed a newcomer, a simple gospel message, and a direct invitation.
You just never know …who God wants to use in a situation, how He wants to accomplish His work, or which one He is reaching out to save.
BTW, I know this story because I was the preacher last week that was there when it happened. Praise God! You just never know!
On a recent Sunday, Bowman and Jones were scheduled into a church for the morning worship service. That evening we were to be in another church just a short 20 miles away from the first.
The afternoon between the two services posed a problem. It would not make sense to go back to our home for the afternoon, as we would only arrive in time to turn around and return! But there was also too much time to while away with no place to go. We knew that we could spend some time eating lunch - but then what? No local mall, sitting in our car for hours..not a good option, and we knew no one in the area.
So a few days before that Sunday, I called the minister of the evening church and asked if he might have a room in his facility where we could be allowed to hang out that afternoon until time for the service. He replied that he could do better than that, and he would take care of it.
When we arrived he took us to Tom and Sandy's home, where we were greeted warmly and led to their "gathering room", a cheerful, bright, open, detached room apart from their main house. When they left us with instructions to make ourselves at home, the warmth of that room took over and we were quickly snuggled down into comfortable furniture watching TV until we fell asleep.
Later we rejoined Tom and Sandy in their kitchen for ice tea and a slice of homemade dessert that Tom had whipped up for us earlier. We spent the remainder of our short time, talking with that delightful couple who had opened their home to us.
Earlier this month another gracious couple opened their home to us and provided lunch, even though they knew that we could only "eat quickly, say thanks, and run," as we had a long drive ahead of us to the next church that night.
Know what I have just described? "Hospitality." A concept of open-handed, sweetly offered graciousness to one another.
Years ago in this country it used to be the norm, now it is the exception. Are we too busy, too isolated, too tired, too uncaring, or too fearful to open our homes and our lives to each other anymore? I don't know the answer, but I do know that afternoons like I have just described have been a tremendous blessing to us. May we as a country be able one day return to a time of open hospitality.
Many people I talk to today are down, feeling like they are under the weight of the world.
Too much debt.
Too little money.
Too few jobs available.
Too many ill.
Too many political promises.
Too few promises kept.
And on and on I could go with this list.
We live in a society of doubt, fear, and uncertainty about almost everything. It is tough on folks right now. But then, when you read your Bible, God says, "Be of good cheer!"
Are you kidding me? Good cheer?
But our situation today in many ways mimics the situation found in Mark 6; when the disciples found themselves in trouble in the midst of a ferocious storm while out on the sea. The storm was overcoming them in their fishing boat and they saw no way out and no hope. Sound familiar???
Suddenly Christ appears and calms the disciples by saying, "It is I, be of good cheer." The storm still raged on, the waves crashed, lightning flashed and thunder rolled, but Jesus wasn't concerned about the circumstances, only with the crisis of heart that His beloved were having.
Could it be that the Lord may be trying to say the same to believers today? In the midst of your storm with its doubts and fears ..."It is I, be of good cheer."
Either He is God in the storm, or He's not God when there is no storm. The psalmist wrote in Psalms 56:3, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
Unemployment? Be of good cheer.
Elections? Be of good cheer.
Illness? Be of good cheer.
God is in total control.
Ever had to realize just how quickly your life can get "out of kilter?" You think everything is rocking along just fine; you go to work, come home at the end of your shift, take care of errands, hang out with the family, pursue a favorite hobby, chase after the kids, etc. And all seems to be just as it should be.
But then you begin to realize there's a bump, or a wobble in the way things feel. Kinda like tires on your truck that get out of balance. Things just don't feel exactly right anymore.
You spend too much time at work.
Or you've ignored your spouse lately.
Or haven't actually listened to what the kids are wanting to
Or could be that you suddenly find that it's been a long time since you have taken time out to play or relax.
It's very easy to overlook one area of your life or go too gung-ho on another area. Now I know, there are times in our life that some crisis creates a need to spend more time taking of one specific area. But if we are not careful, we do not always realize when that "crisis" is over - and out of habit, that area of our life takes over more than it should and crowds out time we need for other parts of life.
Keeping things in balance is a never ending goal for all of us. And it is an absolute necessity for you to be vigilant to watch for imbalances in family, job, personal time and all the other pieces of you.
Scripture says,"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these (other) things will be added unto you."
God knows how important it is for your life and mine for us to remain balanced. His solution? To keep Him and His big picture in mind in all things. It makes it a lot harder to overload one area of life when you keep Jesus as the focus of all you do.
I love my wife!! I simply adore and appreciate her. She is a part of me..."two became one" - that sort of thing.
If you want to be around me, enjoy me and my company, then you'll have to enjoy and appreciate her too. It's a package deal. Her and me - me and her. Don't tell me you like me but can't stand my wife. It's not negotiable.
But that statement about "I like you but can't stand your wife", is what I keep hearing some folks say....only it's not me and Renie they are talking about, it is about Christ and his bride - the church. "I love Jesus, but I just don't like His church."
The church, according to Scripture, is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the one that He loved and died for. Now, very true, she has some weaknesses and some issues, but to hate the church is to despise the Savior. And to seek to hurt or destroy a church is to hurt the Lord.
Christ seeks to honor, and build up His Bride. If we say we want Him and love Him, then His mission must be our mission too - to strengthen, improve, honor, and encourage the Church.
"But there are so many problems." So what if there are? It is His bride, and He certainly can handle those problems the way He chooses.
Truth is...if you are a Christian, you are a part of the local body of believers. It is up to you to be the best "part" you can be, and allow Christ to build and bless His church.
Several years ago a popular Country &Western singer recorded
a song about all the hard times he and his wife had been through…deaths, job loss, and the struggles of life. The lyrics were the result of his amazing appreciation and respect for his mate. He sang with great pride about “My Woman, My Woman, My Wife…”
After these several years with God’s choice for me, I am ever
increasingly aware of the sacrifices she has made, the various struggles she has endured, the joy she has brought, and the wisdom she has imparted. She has encouraged, lifted, strengthened, challenged, and done whatever was needed to
make me a better man.
There have been times when others thought we were too close. That to me is the most ridiculous of statements. Scripturally we became “one,” and it would be like claiming that your arm and leg spend too much time together. It takes both for the body to be complete. So it takes us both to make a complete unit. I am so proud to have a friend, a mate, a partner, a caretaker, a prayer warrior, and supporter in my wife.
In premarital counseling situations with young couples, I have often told the young lady, “One of your most important and biggest jobs in this marriage is to be a ‘cheerleader’ for him. There will be far too many looking for a way to pull him down.”
My wife is my greatest cheerleader that I can ever imagine.
RB, …"My Woman, My Woman, My Wife"… Thanks for being to me exactly what I have needed. You are God’s “Help Meet(Fit)” for me.
“Husbands love your wives as you love yourselves…”
Oh yes, it really is a big deal! The whole nation watches as a person is formally nominated to represent the political party as a candidate for President of the United States. Later he will accept the nomination, and at that point, the campaign is officially on.
But may I use this process of nominating, to put before you another candidate for your vote?
"Ladies and gentlemen of all races, nations, creeds, and colors - I come before you tonight to nominate the only candidate who really knows who you are, who knows exactly what you face, and how you feel. He is the only one who can repair your broken body, your broken heart, and your broken pocket book.
He can fix an economy that suffers from a depression or a recession. This candidate can heal the body that is suffering from illness. He is fully capable of putting broken homes and broken lives back together.
I come before you to nominate the only One who could, and did, become a nobody, in order that you could become a somebody. He is not wanting to be a candidate for governor, nor senator, nor even a candidate for President. He is vying for you to allow Him to be, in your life, just who He really is. Ladies and gentlement, may I present to you Jesus Christ - the one and only KING of Kings and LORD of Lords!!
This candidate for your vote of loyalty needs no real election, there will be no recounts, and there are no run offs. Forever past, and forever more - He is the King! He will rule and reign forever from the throne room of the Father Jehovah God. The only ballot you can cast is whether or not to surrender your life to Him. You can "elect" Him to rule over your life, or you can vote your own will and live your own way.
But you need to know this...one day in the future all will proclaim that He is King forever.
FROM BROTHER ANDY...
We who attend church services know and sing a lot of songs about God. All the way from happy and peppy songs to the older, more stately hymns. God uses a whole variety to further His kingdom and touch people's lives, and for this we indeed are grateful.
We recently have added a song to the many that we use when we are singing in churches. It is so simple in words and in its melody, but extremely powerful in its message - and its effect on the people who know Him.
"For all that You've done, I will thank You.
For all that You're going to do.
For all that You've promised,
and all that You are,
is all that has carried me through.
Jesus, I thank You.
Thank You for loving and setting me free
Thank You for giving Your life just for me
How I thank You, gratefully thank You
Jesus, I thank You, thank You, thank You,
I have noticed whenever and wherever we have sung this song believers are visibly moved. Sometimes we do need to be reminded of what He has already done and is doing for us, so that we will be thankful for who He is to us.
One of the signs of living in the last days is that people will become ungrateful. And folks who expect blessings but who are not grateful for the One who gave the blessings are unthankful.
While talking on the phone to various pastors around our state, I have been hearing them make statements like, "Haven't held a revival in a long time, last one we held no one came."
Or I hear, "You know, it seems revivals just don't work anymore."
We have convinced ourselves that what God has blessed for decades simply won't be effective today. And that is amazing because:
1. God has not changed.
2. Lost people have not become extinct.
3. The Holy Spirit is still alive and well.
4. The Church is still the love of His heart, and the group that God truly enjoys blessing.
According to the pastors in the leading churches here in our state, revivals still work. And in my experiences as a pastor for thirty five plus years, revivals that were well-prayed over, well-planned, well-thought out, and well-promoted seemed to achieve results: sometimes resulting in a revitalized congregation, sometimes more in seeing converted souls.
May I offer a few suggestions when planning a revival effort?
1. Bring in a God-called Evangelist to preach ( According to Scripture, the evangelist is a gift from God to the church.)
2. Involve your people to pray like crazy (All else is vain without prayer.)
3. Get your folks to realize that God wants to do something special. (But He has never forced His will upon a church.)
4. Make this meeting the highlight and focal point of the season. (If you don't see it as important, who will?)
5) Revival meetings must be seen as crucial to the vitality and health of the church. To ignore this type of effort is costly to it and the whole community. (Look around.)
As the old story goes: When the church building was burning to the ground one night, one of the community's lost men was seen standing in the crowd of people who had gathered to watch.
The church's brokenhearted but still bravely smiling pastor approached him and joked, "Well, Tom, tonight's a first! I've never seen you at church before!"
To which Tom replied, "Church ain't niver ben on fire afore."
We need to catch on fire.