Category — Quest
In the 80’s my wife and I were missionaries in Austria. For a time we worked in a town with a population of 40,000 to establish a church. When we started looking for a place to rent in town we were amazed to find that there was nothing available! So a friend of ours began driving the neighborhoods looking for vacant houses. He found such a house and put us in contact with the owner.
Apparently a nine-year-old boy had inherited this 100-year-old villa from his aunt, who had not been able to care for it or herself for the ten years prior to her death. After she died, the house sat vacant for another five years. It had been broken into several times and ransacked by vandals. When the mother of the boy (owner) showed us the house, it looked like Frankenstein’s lair! Everything was covered with soot. The curtains, floor and furniture all were blanketed in black soot. The place was a mess! [Read more →]
August 21, 2009 2 Comments
Jesus promised his disciples (and that includes us), “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8) This dynamic power that the Holy Spirit endows us with evidences itself in several ways. First, the Holy Spirit prompts us to talk to specific people at a specific time.
A number of years ago, I was standing along the railing on the upper level at a shopping mall. I looked across and saw a young man also just waiting there. The Holy Spirit impressed on me to go introduce this guy to Christ. I was scared, but I obeyed and this guy literally told me he had been waiting for someone to tell him about Christ! He gave his life to Jesus then and there! [Read more →]
August 20, 2009 1 Comment
Many of us confuse doing witnessing for Christ with being witnesses for Christ. Let me explain what I mean by sharing a humorous story from my past. When my younger brother and I were in junior high our church put on evangelism training. My parents asked us to attend this training with them.
The pinnacle of the this evangelism training experience was to go out into a neighborhood in pairs, knock on doors and share a gospel tract with whomever came to the door. My younger brother and I were paired up and dropped off in a neighborhood on a beautiful fall Minnesota Saturday. [Read more →]
August 19, 2009 1 Comment
Many of us have wrestled with questions about what constitutes a spiritual gift, what our spiritual gifts are and how we discover them. Based on Scripture a spiritual gift appears to be simply an ability or skill endowed on us by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the church family. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.)
My personal understanding from Scripture is that the Lord does not provide for us a complete list of spiritual gifts. The lists given in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4 contain both similar and unique spiritual gifts. None of these lists neatly overlap. This leads me to the conclusion that these lists provide examples of spiritual gifts, but are not intended to give us a complete inventory of them. [Read more →]
August 16, 2009 2 Comments
As I read through the Bible one of the things that I enjoy about God is the creative way he chooses to do things! Look at just a few of these: he created many things out-of-nothing, yet when he created man, he took some dirt (that he’d already created) out of which he formed him; God provided manna for Israel’s food every day for 40 years; he rebuked an evil prophet by allowing the prophet’s own donkey to speak to him; he brought down the walls of a mighty city by asking Israel to march around it; he got Jonah’s attention by preparing a great fish to swallow him for three days and then spit him out on land!
Then we go to the New Testament where we find Jesus also working creatively. Sometimes he healed people just by speaking a word; other times he touched them; once he made mud and daubed it on the eyes of a blind man and told him to wash; he turned the water contained in six large ceremonial jars into fine wine at a wedding; he asked Peter to go catch a fish in which he would find a coin of an exact denomination in order to pay taxes! The Lord is incredibly creative in his dealings with mankind. [Read more →]
August 14, 2009 No Comments
When I was 12 years old our church launched a campaign to raise pledges for missions for the coming year. The church leadership challenged us to spend time asking God what amount he would have us trust him for. Our leadership also led by example. God had given me a vision for reaching the lost around the world and I knew that he wanted to use me in a small way to see that vision accomplished. I prayed and sensed that he wanted me to trust him to give $4.00 per week through me.
As a 12-year-old I received a dollar per week for my allowance, so I couldn’t simply divert what was already coming in to my giving. I prayed that God would give me opportunities to earn enough to meet my pledge of $4.00 per week for the next year. I still remember how excited I was that morning in church when I turned in my pledge card. I knew I was embarking on an adventure with God and I could hardly wait to see how he would work in my life! [Read more →]
August 13, 2009 No Comments
“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces.” (Proverbs 3:9 NLT) To honor God is to show our regard, esteem, value, respect, and prizing of him. When we give to the Lord, we demonstrate to him, to others, and to ourselves that he is supreme in our lives. When we give, we attest that he is our most valued treasure. Giving shows that our hearts are set on him and not on our money or belongings. Giving honors God as supreme. Giving to him is an act of worship.
But there is both a non-giving and a giving that dishonors God. Not giving simply fails to honor God. Not giving demonstrates that our wealth and possessions and not God are truly what we treasure most. Not giving to God withholds honor from him and hoards that honor for us. By not giving, we elevate our wealth and possessions above him. So, not giving dishonors God. [Read more →]
August 10, 2009 No Comments
As I mentioned in The Quest, when I first began meeting with a spiritual partner neither of us had any idea what that would look like or how to proceed. Here’s what we did and what I’ve found to work well over the past seven years. And remember, men meet with men, women with women.
Begin by being very clear about why you’re partnering together. Verbalize with each other that you are establishing this relationship in order to “sharpen” each other (Proverbs 27:17) and “spur” each other in becoming more Christlike (Hebrews 10:24). [Read more →]
August 8, 2009 No Comments
After cultivating numerous spiritual partnerships over a period of seven years, I still find it a struggle to develop a relationship with a new spiritual partner! And I know that I’m not alone in this. There are a number of reasons for this sense of awkwardness. One is that we rarely seem to pursue a relationship with someone intentionally. We often just let them happen serendipitously.
Another reason for this awkward feeling is that spiritual partners both know that they are stepping into a relationship in which mutual vulnerability and trust must reign. But left to themselves, relationships often require many years to reach that level of familiarity. Beginning a relationship with that understanding feels different—even scary! [Read more →]
August 7, 2009 1 Comment
As a young man I was hired by a Christian group to evangelize the villages along the Oregon coast. I had renovated a 1958 VW van into a camper that served as my mobile office and home. The prospect of serving God in this pioneer way was appealing and adventurous to me. That is until I actually began doing it! What I quickly discovered was that doing ministry solo is unnatural and very, very lonely. Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two. And as far as I can determine, the apostle Paul always had co-workers.
I mentioned in The Quest that I had recognized my need for spiritual partnership long before I knew what it meant to partner spiritually with someone. Like most of us, I had enjoyed friendships with other followers of Christ. In some of those relationships we even enjoyed a high level of transparency and vulnerability. But spiritual partners take that one step further. [Read more →]
August 5, 2009 2 Comments