PreparingThe Message

The Senior Adult Bible Conference has concluded and now I want to do a review of the process that went in to the preparation and delivery of the message.

Having been a part of this Bible Conference for three years, now, I look forward to it more every year.  This year was no exception.  When I was asked to be a part again this year, my first thought was, what does the Lord want me to say?  To preach for the Lord is to speak that which He would say if He were present in His earthly body.  That is such an awesome responsibility.  It genders many questions such as, Where are the people at in their lives?  What does the Lord have planned that they need to prepare for?  What problems are people struggling with?  What doctrine needs to be clarified? Etc.

And so it begins.  How do you discover the mind of God, for He alone knows where we are and what is ahead?  This necessitates prayer.  I never know until He reveals it to me so I have to go to Him as ask.  Sometimes it takes a lot of self-examination to make sure that there is nothing in my life that will hinder the message from being understood properly.

Once the receiver (me) has been properly prepared, then comes the receiving.  I make it a point that I never single out individuals, but stick to the principles laid out in the Bible.  It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to do the job of convicting and applying.  It is my job to properly present, clarify, and explain the Scriptures.  Each message is unique as to who is there, the times, the need, etc.  This combination of events has never happened before and it will never happen again and that is why you can never preach the same message twice, though you can present the same truths, repeatedly.

The next step is the selection of the Scripture.  There are a number of places in the Bible that a specific Doctrine, truth, circumstance or other application can be found.  I try to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and let Him direct me to the place He wants to speak from.  After all, it is His job to direct me into all truth.  He does it in many ways.  Sometimes He uses circumstances, but more often than not He will bring a particular Scripture to mind repeatedly, or show me a truth about that Scripture that I simply must share with others.  He works in many ways that I do not understand but I trust Him and His leading.

The final step of preparation is the soaking in the message.  That is reading and rereading, reviewing, listening for the still small voice that I have come to recognize by many years of hearing.  It does to me what happens to food when you marinate it in a specially prepared mixture of different flavorings.  The preacher must receive the message first as the Scripture says, they that preach the gospel, must live of the gospel.  Only then am I ready to preach.  How long does it take?  The answer  is all your life.

Then we come to the delivery of the message.  Nerves are present, the mouth is dry even if you just took a drink of water, the mind races, you are introduced, and you begin to speak . . .  It seems that I always forget some details that I intended to include and I add a few things that I never thought of in my preparation.  How was the timing?  Did I accentuate the point correctly?  What could I have done better? Etc.  This is all part of the preparation of the next message.

Summer Bible Conference Underway

We are now in our Senior Adult Summer Bible Conference which runs from yesterday through Wednesday.  Yesterday we had two speakers in the afternoon that both spoke on aging but from a totally different perspective.  Both were great and gave us several valuable insights.  One of the highlights for me was that it can be (and should be) one of the most productive times of our lives.  We have the opportunity to influence more people with more lasting insights than we have ever had the opportunity to do.  Today, Tomorrow and Wednesday we will have two speakers each day; the first speaking at 10:00 AM and the second will be speaking at 11:00 AM and repeating the times each day.

I will be speaking on Wednesday at the 10:00 AM slot.  My message is on John 6 where Jesus gave one of the great “I AM” teachings, I AM the Bread of Life.  All of the messages are being recorded and you can go to our Church’s web sight and listen to them at your convenience.  If You would like a copy of any or all of the messages (on a CD), drop me a note in the response box and I will try to get it to you.  If you live outside the US there will be shipping charges as I am not a business but an individual living on a fixed income.

Do you remember a blog that I wrote back in January about this blog being an ongoing adventure and that we would see the Lord in action, on our journey home.  Later I told you about my being asked about making the trip to China and later I shared with you that I was indeed going?  Yesterday, I found out that the entire trip is going to be paid for.  Since I am on a fixed income, and it was not part of my budget, it was going to take the Lord for it to happen.

The operation of faith is one of the strong point in chapter 4 of my book, The Mystery of Faith. Faith operates in the following manner: God initiates faith, then man believes, then God finishes it or brings it to pass.  Since God had initiated my making the trip to China, it was up to me to believe that He would provide what was needed to make the trip.  Since I then believed it was indeed God setting it up, I had compete trust in Him to bring it to pass.  This is how faith operates.  I did not go to God to make this happen, but He came to me with the request for me to go.  I wasn’t the one initiating the action, nor was I the one who initiated the request.  The request was the result of my response to God’s request for me to go.  He always finishes what He starts.  This is His chosen means of operation.  Until we get this operation down, we will continue to struggle with our faith and how God intends for us to walk.

Update – 8-3-18

Things are starting to happen with the mission trip to China.  The tickets are being purchased and it is starting to become a reality.  The date of departure is set for October 24, 2018.  Our first leg of the trip will be a non stop flight from DFW to Guangdong, China, which is near Hong Kong.  From there I will take another flight to northern China where I will meet Forest and Yan and spend a few days with them.

As soon as I get the tickets and full schedule, I can then continue with my visa application which should take about two weeks after it is sent in.

Forest reported that they are working hard on the translation of my book and hopes to have it completed and printed by the time I get there.  It will not be printed by a noted publisher but is will be something that I can bring back here and finalize it for our uses here.  Hopefully, I can then make it available to Christians here that speak and read Chinese.  This will be a milestone in the present ongoing work of the 4 language translations  that are underway.

The translation in Japan took a hit recently when a portion of the translation was lost in a flood in Japan.  I have 4 chapters that have been completed but it was a big loss of the work that had been done beyond that.  They are regrouping and pressing forward with that work there.

There has been significant progress on the Russian translation and chapter 4 has just been completed.  Joel has been more than faithful in his work and it is such a joy to see the Lord bless him through this process.  I think he really has little awareness as to how God may use it.  There are so many in this country who speak only Russian that it surprised me how needed it is.  I can see the Lord working on many fronts.

The Spanish translation is moving forward as well but at a much slower pace.  There have been much interference in family needs and prayer is needed there.  Still the translation is on chapter 3 and moving forward.

As always, I solicit your prayers for this ministry and the safety and guidance of those who are sharing in this work.of translating. Your prayers are more needed than you know.

News Update 7.3.18

Today my wife and I went to the doctor to get the latest on her broken arm.  The good news is that she is not scheduled for any surgery.  She was taken out of the splint and put into a cast.  The splint was full to the upper arm and the cast is only on the hand,wrist and lower arm, giving her a lot more mobility.  She will be required to do some therapy for the next week or two and can discard the sling in a week or so.

So far, she has not been able to use her right arm at all and I have had to do a lot of her chores around the house, driving, etc.  It has been devastating to my schedule and routine, but she is worth it, and more.  You should have seen her coaching me to cook spaghetti and meat balls.  I didn’t do a very good job but we got through it and I have an even greater appreciation for her contribution to our marriage.  It has been good for me, though I hope it will never become necessary on a permanent basis.

I am thankful for those of you who have been praying for her.  She is doing well and even pulled a prank on me (which she almost never does).  She goes to bed before I do as I am in my study till late.  As I came into the bedroom as quiet as I could, so as to not wake her, and slipped into the bathroom,and was closing the door carefully, so that the light wouldn’t wake her, she said BOO!, and touched me from behind.  I didn’t know that she had gotten up and was right behind me in the bathroom and I thought she was asleep in bed.  I jumped with a start, which I never do, and turned to find her laughing at me.  You have to understand that it is rare that she ever gits me that way.

This afternoon I have a little time so I am doing a quick post about details.  I am working on my message for the upcoming Senior Adult  Bible Conference on August  5-8. I will be speaking on the 8th at 10:00 AM.  I will be the next to last speaker for the conference.  This will be the third year that I have been given the honor to speak at the conference.  I always count it an honor to get to preach, and since I am not now the pastor of a church, I don’t get to preach that often so I am really looking forward to it.

Just a couple notes on the upcoming China mission trip.  We will be leaving here on October 24 for a 10 day trip.  I will be going to Beijing, China to meet my friend and he will then be my escort to wherever else we go.  One stop we will make is Tienanmen Square and I don’t know where else at this time.  Because of the sensitivity of the Chinese government and our not wanting to raise their ire, I am going as a tourist.  This will give me insights as to how we can minister to them without putting others in danger.  I will share more of their situation when I return.  Again, I am asking for your prayers.  Not so much for my safety or even for the safety of those who I will meet, but primarily that the Lord will be pleased and honored in my going.

Interruptions In Life

Wow!  Have you noticed that surprises come at the most unexpected times?  The latest came on Wednesday morning.  My wife and I take care of our great grandson a few days a week while my son and his wife are at work.  On Wednesday morning, I was sitting at my desk when Jayden (our great grandson) came in and mumbled in a small voice, something that I could not understand.  I asked him to repeat it and still did not understand what he was saying.  I asked him to speak in a louder voice to repeat it and he said, Grammy wants your help.  I got up, and not feeling any urgency asked him where she was and he said in the back yard so I headed in that direction.

As I went outside, I scaned the yard and found my wife, Darla, laying on the ground but no apparent injury.  Then she spoke and said, “could you help me up?  I fell and can’t put any weight on my right wrist.”  I gently helped her up and noticed that it was already turning black and blue and starting to swell.  I told her that it is probably broke but she said no, I don’t think so, it is just painful.  We all went in the house and the pain continued to increase as well as the swelling and bruising.

We went to the doctor’s office where they x-rayed it and determined it was indeed broke.  they put here in a splint and referred her to an orthopedic surgeon where we went yesterday.  He put her in a splint that covered all of her lower arm and elbow so she has no use of it now.  She couldn’t even squirt out some ketchup from a plastic bottle.  I now have her responsibilities, watching our great grandson, driving her to doctors and taking care of her; in addition to anything I need to do.  As a result I simply don’t have time to keep up on everything.  So I will be missing some days on this blog.  I will make entries as I can and will resume a more regular schedule when time permits.

Thank you for your understanding, patients and prayers.  Very soon I will announce a new feature on my blog as soon as it is completed.  More to come.  What an adventure in faith!

Train Up A Child – Responsibility

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 

We are living in a time that teaches entitlement as one of the basic values and it is taking a devastating toll.  When I was a child it was common to hear that the world owes you nothing and you had to earn what you get.  We had chores that we had to do every day and I hadn’t even hear of an allowance.  Today, we hear of families that do not have a job, live in a nicer home than many of those around them, have all of the latest gadgets, stylish clothes, nice cars, etc. and the government pays for it all.

One day I was asked what I thought about this modern philosophy and I responded with this story.  Suppose there are 100 people who are holding up a platform with an elephant on it.  Then 25 people who are struggling are allowed to ride on the platform.  Now the entire weight of the platform and elephant plus the weight of the additional 25 people, have only 75 people to support it.  Lets also suppose that the 75 people who were not struggling before can just barely support it.  What will happen is that some of the 75 remaining supporters will also want to ride instead of supporting and now you have even less doing the job.  At some point, everything will come crashing down and the devastation will be great.

I am not against helping at all.  In fact, I am active in helping, even without a program.  What I am pointing out is that everyone should have a responsibility to do his part.  In  2Thessolians 3:10 we have this admonition For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  Everyone is responsible to contribute.  We spend millions of dollars each year, just on cleanup which could be done by the welfare participants.  Even though there are many who are physically handicapped, they can contribute in other ways, such as encourager to the next generation, etc.  I remember watching a TV program when I was a child, about even the blind sorting bolts.  Yes I know that it may not create a profit but it will lessen the burden and provide that individual of a sense of self worth.

Responsibility must begin at an early age.  My parents gave me responsibilities in many ways.  Chores was only one, and another was in money management.  I was picking strawberries at the age of 5 and began contributing to the family by buying my own school clothes.  I was taught savings by building my own reserves.  Whenever I got money for my birthday or earned a profit from some project, I was required to put it in my savings and then plan for its expenditure and to avoid impulse buying.  My brother and I would even make our own toys.  My point is that if we are irresponsible then we will suffer.  The cost will be directly proportionate to the degree or irresponsibility.  If we fail to teach a child responsibility then we will get a society who loses its sense of values, takes no responsibility for its actions, becomes lazy, loses its creative abilities and ingenuity and taxes those who are responsibility into destruction.  I would advocate that all welfare come with responsibility, that all parents and guardians teach responsibility, and that responsibility be rewarded instead of punished.

Train Up A Child – Consequences

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

When we are training up a child it is important to note that there is a way he should go.  He should not be left to his own choices because he has not yet learned that there is a difference.  Every choice has a consequence that is either a blessing or a curse.  Bad choices produce bad results.  Good choices produce good results.  It seems so simple yet we have parents letting the kids decide the choice without preparing them for the consequences, and then letting them avoid negative consequences.  Without feeling the consequence of their actions, the child is not taught how to make decisions, but is taught rather that it doesn’t matter and he does not develop a sense of which way to go.  Further, he fails to develop a sense of true values which may even lead him into a destructive behavior.

When a child is not taught that there is a consequence to every action, both good and bad, then he becomes confused about life.  In spite of what society may say, there is a right and a wrong.  It is not determined by how I feel about it, rather, it is determined by its consequences.  If you don’t like the consequence of the heat of the stove, then don’t put your hand on it.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that choices have consequences.  You not only hinder a child from making good choices, but you put a roadblock in front of him that hinders good choices.

This is why the Lord allows us to face so many choices in life to help us make good choices, that we will be blessed and live a fruitful life.  One of the responsibilities of the parent is to enforce these lessons of life. If a child fails to obey the parent there should be consequences but the consequences should not be to punish, but to correct the process of making good choices.  The child should take the responsibility of the choice and thereby the consequence.  Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.  God provided a place for spanking and it will not damage the child but it is quite sensitive, due to design.  Spanking should be only to enforce this lesson of consequences and we should not swerve from it for the child’s sake   It is an act of love and should be followed by other expressions of love.  Whenever I found it necessary to administer a spanking, it was always followed up with hugs and consolations.  The purpose is to turn the child, not to punish or administer justice and should always be accompanied by grace.  Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

Proverbs 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.  I meet so many parents and/or guardians that are totally exhausted in the battle of who is going to rule the day.  If you fail to carry out your responsibility to teach this lesson, the child will become confused about life and get the idea that he calls the shots and will wear you out.  Your responsibility begins at birth and is built over time but once done will bring you reward for your making the right choice.  This is one of the most important lessons that a child is to learn – that there is a right way and to know what it is.

What’s the Problem?

I have a small garden in my back yard and I harvested some beets yesterday evening.  My wife really likes pickled beets so we have been watching them grow and yesterday was the first we had harvested.  You can imagine her disappointment when we discovered that some kind of bug had eaten into most of the beets.  They looked good in the ground, the leaves were large and green and we could see the tops of the beets that they were large enough to harvest but most of the beets had to be thrown into the trash because of the deterioration from the bugs.

So it is with us, from the outside our sin remains undiscovered.  From within we are rotting and dying.  We alone, know about the inner condition of our heart and soul.  We are like David in  Psalms 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. and we need to face the truth about ourselves before there can be any remedy.  All of our efforts to appear righteous are futile until we face our sin.  Excuses will not fix it.  Works will not pay for it.  Intentions will not change it.

1John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.   
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all  unnrighteousness.  10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

The Lord does not ask us to pay for our sin, though we think that somehow we should and we try to make up for it.  He knows that the wages if sin is death so he paid the sin debt in full.  That means that our efforts to make up for it only frustrates the grace of God.  It is a free gift and must be received as such.  What He does ask from us is that we confess it.  At that point He will forgive our sin and His blood will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

On the other hand, if we deny that we have a sin problem then we are contradicting God and we are denying the truth of His word which says ALL have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.

It’s like my Dad used to say, “You can’t fix it until you know what’s broke.”

China Mission Update

We  have had our first formal planning meeting on the China mission trip and here are the latest bits of information.  The time has not been set in stone but is projected between October 20th and November 15th.  We are waiting on a response from China as to the best time.  The trip will be about 10 days, including travel of 2 days each way, leaving about 6 days of actual time there.  Because of the sensitivity of the Chinese Government to religious activity we are taking a low profile approach so as to create as little as possible problems.

As of right now, there are 4 of us going and we will separate into two groups, touching two different regions of China.  It is more of an exploratory trip than a project type of trip.  We will be looking to our host to guide us so that we can be of the greatest blessing that we can as well as not putting a target on them so that they can continue to work freely there.

There are many things to complete in our planning but we are focusing in on the things of primary importance.  One of them is the securing of our visas.  I am the behind the rest of them but they are catching me up.  They have been to other countries on mission trips and they are more familiar with the process.  I have only been to Japan and that was a few years ago.

We do not know exactly where in China we will be going.  One location is fairly well decided but our other contact works in multiple locations so that has yet to be decided.  One thing I do know is that I will be visiting Forest and Yan who were members of our church and moved back to China a year ago.  They are also translating my book into their language.  When it is completed, it will become available to our Chinese brethren here in the USA.

As always, I want to enlist you on the prayer team for this mission trip.  I look forward to learning more about this culture and finding a way to be a blessing to them.  It is encouraging to hear from you and to share our hearts as we journey together in faith.

Just a note to our followers in France.  I am aware of a group of about 20 who have visited this site twice.  Would love to hear from you specifically.

Summer Time

Summer is a busy time for many people.  My daughter was on a mission trip to Greece and we spent 4 days in Oklahoma with the grand kids.  Then were off to Colorado for  10 days for our family reunion as well as my sister’s golden anniversary..  As soon as we got back on Saturday, we had our grand daughter and 4 of her friends here for 4 days.  I just had eyelid surgery yesterday and am making that adjustment.  Coming up on June 1st is our grand daughter’s graduation and on June 10-14 is the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas.  It will be good to review with other co-laborers their work with the Lord.

Coming up in August is the Senior Adult Bible Conference.  This year it will begin on Sunday afternoon, August 5 and continue through the 8th.  There will be two speakers each morning, one at 10 AM and one at 11 AM.  I will be speaking on the 8th at the 10 AM slot.

It appears that the China mission trip for Oct-Nov is still moving forward in the planning, but cautiously as there are still some obstacles to overcome.  Please be one of our prayer partners that will under gird this effort.

The translations continue to move forward slowly but continuously.  Every time I hear of progress, I praise the Lord.  This is a work that He initiated and I am just an observer.  I am excited to see how He intends to use this work.

I am praying for each of you as you discover to amazing plan that God has for each of you.  I am seeing the Lord use you in some really amazing ways.  May the Lord Bless you in every way as you serve Him.