This past week has been difficult for me as I have had cataract surgery on my right eye on Tuesday.  I have had a cold that settled in my chest all week and then on Wednesday I had a return trip to the eye doctor and then a class on Wednesday and I got run down  so I took a rest day on Thursday and then back to preparation for the Sunday class.  In all of that, I failed to make my blog entry on a couple of those days.  I’ll do better this week as I am feeling better and don’t have the extra doctor visits.

the good news was that when they checked my eyesight on Wednesday, I was 20/20 in my right eye only one day after surgery.  I have since noticed that things are not fuzzy like they were before and I no longer have double vision.  God is so good to allow me to live is such a time as this that they can do so much to help us see.

Writing your Personal Testimony

In today’s Sunday School class we studied the apostle Paul’s personal testimony and we closed the class with the challenge that if you haven’t written out your personal testimony, then you should.  It is one of the most powerful tools you have as a Christian to share the Gospel with others.  They may disagree with it but they cannot deny it.  Like the song goes, “I was there when it happened, so I guess I ought to know.”

There are three essential elements that go into an effective testimony.  The first element is what were you before you were saved.  You are not trying to tell all of the stories of your life, just enough to validate that you were on the wrong track.  Essentially, it will boil down to I was trying to go through life without Jesus to forgive, love and guide me.

The second essential element is What Happened?  What occurred that caused you to see that you were on the wrong road and how did you discover the right road?  The circumstances will probably be unique and different but the outcome will wind up as a personal experience with the one who died in your place and is now alive and you now know who He is, Jesus.  If this had never happened to you then you still don’t know for sure.  If it has, then it caused a life changing direction in your life and you are now dependent upon and a follower of, Jesus, who is the Christ.  (Jn 7:17)

The third essential element is What changes has this experience made in your life?  If there has been no changes and you are living just as you were before this experience then there is a problem with your testimony.  It could be that you did not meet the Lord but were dependent upon an experience or something other than the Lord.  If you meet him then there will be a change.  It may take a while for you to learn to listen to His voice or to know when He is guiding you but change will certainly happen.  If there is no change then it is worth finding out why.  It could also be because you have some doctrine (teachings) that you hold that contradict with the Bible.  If you truly want to know then read you bible and He will show you the error.  It may be painful to discover that what you always thought was so was really tradition or even superstition.  Another possibility is that you have been deceived in some manner and you need a trustworthy source that will aid you in your search.

You should write it out then review it.  Then see if you can improve it.  Then use it and then go over it some more so that you have the document that accurately relays your story.  It is one of your most effective means of sharing the gospel.

Divine Appointments

Monday was my scheduled time to meet with the prayer team for our church.  You never know what God has in mind for you and Monday was no exception.  The weather was cold and windy. When I got there the attendance was lower than normal.  But here was a man I was unacquainted with, who was there.  As it turns out he is representing the Southern Baptist Convention in ministering to the Sutherland Springs Baptist church. He shared some things about the horror of the shooting, how the church is responding and how the Lord is using this situation to further His kingdoms work.

It was such an honor in getting to pray with him and then later to get to know him a little more.  I had an immediate connection with him as he also has a burden similar to mine.  He works with disciplining new pastors, equipping the saints and seeking revival. He then told me that before coming to this prayer meeting that he felt the distinct impression that the Lord was directing him to come.  When he thought about it and was thinking I don’t really see any reason to come, then the Lord persuaded him that he really needed to come, so he did.  Then he surprised me by telling me that he we also have another common bond in a man who was instrumental in my own life, Manly Beasley.  As we talked together I quickly realized that this was one of those divine appointments.  He and I both left with the distinct impression that we will be working together in the future.

Today I was in Home Depot getting some things for my small garden and as I was checking out, I felt impressed to engage the clerk in conversation.  When I did I found that he was more than willing to talk.  He not only responded to my lead but engaged me in conversation about the Lord.  He asked me several questions and even opened the door to further contact so I gave him my card.  As he looked at my card he noticed the picture of my book and began to quiz me about it which led to my website.  He thanked me and assured me that he, too, felt that this was a meeting from the Lord.  As I walked away, once again with the distinct impression that I had been at another divine appointment.

If you remember that I invited you to come along with me while we go on an adventure of faith.  I confessed then as I do now that I do not know where this journey is leading but it is quite evident to me that He is leading.  It is so exciting to see the Lord as active now as he was 2000 years ago..

Prayer Meeting

Yesterday was an unusually busy day.  I never even got to my study until evening and I was so tired I just ate and went to bed.

Still, it was a productive day.  After finishing my morning routine I went to a prayer meeting at the church.  This prayer meeting was first set up as part of the plan for us to look ahead and find out what the Lord was up to.  We were moving to a point of being out of debt and our church wanted to find out what our next step was.  Instead of simply redirecting the funds of the church, we wanted to know what the Lord had in mind so the church requested a number of the members to meet regularly to seek the Lord in prayer to discover His will in the matter.  The group was divided into 4 sets and each one set aside time to pray as well as to meet once a month in prayer together.  Also, each set would take turns so that there was a weekly group meeting.  We were directed to pray specifically for the will of God, the planning committee, specific prayer needs as they arose as well as the whole staff and membership.

These were special times and we discovered the direction we believe the Lord is leading us as well as getting to know each other much better.  I am happy to report that next month our church will be debt free.  We believe that our mission ahead includes supporting other struggling churches and establishing missions and under girding the kingdom work.  We specifically determined that we were not going to try to store up funds for our own use.  We will keep only a 3-6 months reserve of our budget for operations cash flow and then funnel the remainder into mission and the extension of God’s kingdom.

One of our commitments includes a mission that we are helping to also become debt free.  To do that we are committing an additional $100,000 to their budget so that they will be enabled to extend this plan even further.  We will not lessen our current efforts in missions or in our other efforts to minister to the multiple retirement homes, teaching, training, mission trips, etc but will seek to improve them as well.  Another one of our missions reported that they will move into their own worship facility this next Sunday.

Because the prayer effort was so effective, we also decided to make it a permanent part of our operation as a church.  It is such an honor to be a part of this church as we endeavor to carry out our Lord’s great commission and to see it being done effectively.  Only to God be the glory.

Refining My Skills

This afternoon I attended our monthly teacher training class.  After 50 years of teaching you would think that I knew how to teach.  I really enjoyed the class and was blessed with developing my skills even more than I had before.  If I do not continue to develop my skills then I will get lazy and rely on past knowledge.  When I do that I find that my class becomes predictable and I loose my appeal.  Every class should be fresh and exciting.  If it isn’t exciting for me then it won’t excite them.

Today’s class addressed how to open the class because everyone comes to a class with a wealth of different circumstances and moods.  We discussed how to get everyone on the same page so that learning will not be a drudgery or duty.  We took a passage of scripture and framed the subject matter into a lesson that was scriptural, and applicable to the audience.  While the educational pastor was teaching it came to me that it was like a funnel.  Bringing a collection of different people, backgrounds, interest, and knowledge into a single lesson that is edifying.

We also looked at the coming lesson plans for the next year to give our classes a continuity and to be able to watch for things that will aid us in our efforts.  In that vein, we noted some particular events that are upcoming.  One of them is our church Bible conference that will be held in June.  Because the national convention will be here in Dallas, Texas this year, we are taking advantage of some of the greatest Bible teachers of our time that will be here for the convention, to be our speakers/teachers.  The Bible conference will be held on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following the Convention.  I am really looking forward to this event.

Inching Ahead

Today was a study day.  I worked on my SS lesson for tomorrow and worked on this website some more.  Little by little I am getting up to speed.  I love it when I get a response to a blog or article.  Also, I am looking forward to getting some questions on the Q&A.

This week I went to the eye doctor and will be having eye surgery on the 13th of Feb. and again on the 13th of March.  It is not real major – just cataract surgery on both eyes, one at a time.  It got me to thinking how much we depend on our eyesight.  My life would change so dramatically and I would really struggle to adjust to life if I lost my eyesight. I was thinking about how our seeing helps us to understand God’s perception of everything.

Tomorrow I will be in a teacher training meeting.  Our church has these meetings once a month.  They are to help us as teachers to do a better job.  Our educational pastor is so devoted to equipping us that he goes the extra mile all the time.  He is so supportive and helpful.  I needed a large monitor for my class on Wednesday and he got it together with just a few hours notice.

After that meeting I will be practicing with the men’s choir on some new music that we just got last week.  I am relatively new in the men’s choir and am really out-skilled  as I don’t even read music but they encourage me and so I keep going.  Who knows, I might even get better.

News update!  The translations are all progressing.  The Russian translation is in the third chapter and the Spanish translation is almost through the second chapter.  I haven’t heard about the Japanese translation in a while.  I know that the translator was on a mission trip, out of his country so I am guessing that slowed him down some.  I understand that he is working on the 5th chapter.  The translator on the Chinese translation was here a couple weeks ago and they are working on the 6th chapter. The work is slow but it is moving along steadily.

Broken Rules

My dad was one of the wisest men I ever knew, even though he only had an eighth grade education.  He had a lot of “country sayings” that he would bring out just at the right time.  I remember one time I was working on my car and he asked me what was wrong with it.  I answered nothing, to which he responded, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.   I was able to put together these “Broken Rules” from such experiences and a little of my own learning.

It came out a bit fuzzy so I retyped them below so they are more legible.

Broken Rules

  1. Don’t fix it if it’s not broke.
  2. If it is broke, figure out if it is worth fix’en.
  3. You can’t fix it till you know what is broke.
  4. Don’t try to fix what’s broke till you know how.
  5. If it’s broke, fix it, don’t punish it.
  6. Fix what’s broke.
  7. Fix what broke it.

Life can be quite complicated sometimes but when the rules are simple we seem to do better at life.

My Ministry

I am making this post for those of you who are asking exactly what is my ministry?

I am not currently pastoring a church but I still do preaching whenever I can.  Preaching is a real part of my ministry and I do pulpit supply whenever I have the opportunity.  I have studied the subject of revival extensively and understand it well.  I have preached in the last two Senior Adult Bible Conferences at First Baptist Church, Keller, Texas.  I have preached a revival on the Sioux Indian reservation in North Dakota as well as in small to large churches.  My preaching ministry began in 1970 so nearly a half century of various settings.  Once I used a pot belly stove as a pulpit.

A second area of my ministry is teaching.  This may be the strongest gift I have because it is the most recognized by others.  When the Lord called me to the ministry, the emphasis was on teaching.  It seemed to me that was what the Lord wanted me to do above all else.  Explaining the scripture in a way that it is usable brings me joy.  I teach a Sunday School class each Sunday and have spoken in conferences on several occasions.  I love teaching along with the other aspects of the ministry.  One of my greatest joys is seeing the light come on in other people.

My ministry also includes missions.  I have pastured churches in pioneer areas where all there was, was a mission.  It did not have any deacons or other paid employees. I know the struggle of doing missions.  It required all that I could give to it and even then it was not enough.  As a pastor, I started a mission in a small community that did not have a christian church of any kind.  Several of my most cherished friends are missionaries.  Two of the translators that are working on translations of my book are missionaries.  I pray for them and their work.  I try to help others to see how faithful they are and how they labor in the work of the Lord.

A forth area of my ministry is writing.  I never thought of myself as a writer until I was searching for a book on Faith that explained what faith is and how it works.  I found many books with faith as a topic but I could not find the book I was looking for.  It was then that the Lord laid it on my heart to write that book.  I was the last person that I would have ever guessed should write such a book.  While it is true that the Lord had led me through many faith experiences, I was poor in English, a bad speller and totally inexperienced.  Yet the burden would not leave me so I began struggling to do something that I had no clue on how to do it.  Fast forward several years and my #3 son who majored in English, who now has a masters degree and is teaching English as a second language, started working with me. After several months I had completed the book I couldn’t find.  Certainly the Lord should be credited with that accomplishment.  Since then I have found a penchant in writing and have written some poems, songs, stories and even published some articles.  The project that I am working on now with several translators is the translation of my book into 4 other languages, mentioned in a previous post.  In addition to that I am working on some additional books.  More on that in the future.

Finally, a fifth area of my ministry is consulting for construction projects.  After working in the construction industry for over 50 years, I have learned a few things that make my skill set unique.  I have a vast experience from the contractors vantage point having worked there on every level from sweeping floors to owning my own business twice.  I also understand the church’s view, having pastored churches successfully through the construction phase.  I also understand the mechanics, having a background  in engineering.  And finally, I understand the financial side, having established my own finance organization for my own company, and borrowed a huge amount of money to do a 68 townhouse subdivision.  Now I can use that preparation for the Lord’s work.

These are the major areas of my work but I am also involved in whatever the Lord should so place on my shoulders.  I know that He is in control and He is the one that enables it to happen.  Truly God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise.

Missionary Report

To see the hand of God working in the midst of this world has to be one of the great joys of my life.  During the week I met with FYI and listened as he shared some of the things that a person in China go through as a routine of life.  Hardship is the norm and isolation from the rest of the world and the modern wonders are commonplace.  Their life is one of struggle yet Christianity if flourishing.  On the other hand, we have every comfort and freedom and Christianity is often stagnate here.  I marveled as he told me how they are working to train the pastors and leadership and how faithful they are even without the amenities we have.

This morning I was greeted by members of my SS class with the tragic news that the Chinese government bulldozed down the church building of a 50,000 member church.  But, then in the morning service I was blessed by a former member of our church and now a missionary to China.  She has been serving there for 8 years.  This is the third missionary to China from our own church that have been in our services in the past few weeks.  It seems that the Lord may be saying something about the need in China.  It makes the translation of my book into Chinese all the more urgent.


A Great Reunion

What a thrill it was to have FYI in our home today.  As you may remember that I told you he was coming today.  I met with him last night and we made plans to meet today.  It was like time had stopped since they left for their homeland.  We rejoice together as we shared the events in our lives.  The people there live under a much different  environment from how we do.  While we enjoy many comforts and freedom, they live under very poor conditions and restrictions.  They do not have religious training available to them in most areas and their services center around prayer meetings and preaching.  Often the preaching will last for over an hour and the singing is little to none.  The churches exist by themselves for the most part as there is no association or convention activity as it is frowned upon by the government.  Travel is limited and much of it is by train.  A typical home will be small, have little furniture, and very little, if any, decorations.

We spent considerable time discussing the possibility of a mission trip to there.  I asked how we could be used to be a blessing to the people without causing a problem with the government.  We talked about many of the considerations such as visas, time, places, schedules, etc.  He shared about the people and how warm and supportive they were.  The work there is in a very primitive state.  The people know quite a bit about the bible but structured doctrine, organization, cooperation between churches and/or regions is almost nonexistent..  Nothing was decided but many possibilities were considered.  We determined to simply pray about it and leave the plan up to the Lord.  As He reveals to us what He wants to do then we will follow.