The Gospel Family

 

AFrica 7

Different languages and accents.  Various colors of skin.  Diverse worship styles. Different college backgrounds.  Varied cultural differences.

Africa 4

That’s what I saw in South Africa and Malawi among the natives, the missionaries, the transplants and the travelers.

Africa 5

Whether it was on a plane, in a mission compound, in a Sunday morning service, at a café for breakfast, in the middle of a bunch of teens, or gathered at a camp, I saw something that touched my heart in some very special ways.  It was a foretaste of Revelation 5:8-9 which reads,

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For You were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

For sixteen days I had the blessed privilege to experience the multi-faceted family of God all radically changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ; people from varying tribes and tongues and people and nations.

Africa 6  Africa 3

The family of God needs no introductions; our spirit bears witness with each other (Romans 8:16).

The family of God doesn’t see race but grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The family of God loves one another (John 13:35).

The family of God honors one another (Romans 12:10).

The family of God rejoices and weeps together (Romans 12:15).

The family of God serves one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

The family of God encourages each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Why? Because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!! (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 3:9).  What an awesome family around the world from every tribe, tongue, people and nation that will one day gather around the Throne in Heaven!!

From a Pastor’s Heart,

dale

I Surrender!

Paardeberg Mt. Retreat 1
Paardeberg Mt. Retreat, South Africa – 1st Evening of Camp

“How would you like to go to Africa for 16 days and serve with CampsAbroad in South Africa and Malawi?”

“Do what? Are you kidding me? Wow!  How cool would that be? Wow!”

My heart started racing a bit, my mind going from hither and yon.

After some explanation about the trip, some info about travelling to a third-world country, and the dates, I said I would pray about it, but I already knew I might as well be packing my bags.

Africa 1
Traveling north to Mzuzu, Malawi

Of course, I said yes.  (How interesting that those sixteen days were completely empty on my calendar, which is rare. Also, the initial call came on the first day of our evangelism training conference at the church I pastor.)

As I considered all we had talked about, I must admit there was a bit of fear . . . fear of the unknown.  Where would we be sleeping?  What would we eat?  How would we travel?  How long would our flights be?  Could I be gone from Denise for 16 days?  Dan had travelled to Malawi four years ago, but we were headed north to be with folks neither of us knew. Questions upon questions, and . . . they all centered around me.

Then one morning, the Lord led me to Luke 18:29-30,

So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

No more questions.  Truth is, when you are a follower of Christ living for eternity with eternal values and for God’s glory, there are no questions, fears, worries, doubts, just a “Yes, Lord; I surrender.”

Surrender to the will of God is the best choice . . . always.  As for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

Are you willing to leave all for Christ?  Remember, when you do, the present and eternal gain is perfect.  You will never regret following Christ!

My Greatest Heartache in Ministry

 

Africa Camp 1

For the past two weeks I have savored the awesome blessing of spending the first half of the month of July in Africa serving the Lord, seeing souls saved, and ministering together with dear brothers and sisters in Christ through the ministry of The Wilds Camps Abroad!  This trip to South Africa and Malawi was a definite “get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” trip.  Although I had made other mission trips, I had never visited a third-world country.

Since coming home, I have intentionally entered in my journal my “take-aways” from this journey.  One in particular stands out to me above all others.  I am ashamed to admit it, but I must say that before this trip, I had prayed, but I had not prayed so fervently, so frequently, so specifically, and as trustingly as I did while in Africa.

Without reservation, all that we experienced by the hand of the Lord was absolutely in direct response to prayer!  We watched God answer in so many ways, and we had a “front-row seat” to watch it happen for His glory and our good!!

Africa Camp 2

 

For instance, without going into great detail, after three days of training the nationals how to operate a teen camp, the first day arrived with great anticipation but a bit of fear of the unknown.  It’s 8:00 a.m.  Where are the campers? We looked out in the yard of the mission compound to see only one teen camper.  You read that correctly . . . one teen camper.  Undaunted but not knowing how to gather more teens, Dan, our leader make the absolute best decision.  He looked at all of the workers and said, “Let’s gather in small groups and PRAY for GOD to bring in campers.”  That’s exactly what we did.

As our group cried out to God for a manifestation of Jeremiah 33:3, for God to surprise us, He did exactly as He promised!

Within 30 minutes or less, the gates to the mission compound opened and a pick-up truck laden with a bunch of eager teens entered the grounds.  Moments later, the scene was replayed.  Eventually, we had 88 teens to begin our first day of camp!!  We saw God at work!! What a time of praise we had as we then saw some of those precious souls hear the gospel and respond to the call of salvation!!

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You may be puzzled as to why I have entitled my post “My Greatest Heartache in Ministry” when the past few paragraphs have been about God’s amazing work in my heart and the lives of others.  Quite frankly, I will say that my greatest heartache in ministry is the lack of prayer among God’s people . . . me included.

I’ve seen folks get up way early to be at church to go on some church fellowship trip.  I’ve seen believers pack out an auditorium or outdoor arena to hear their favorite singer or group and sometimes pay a hefty price for the ticket (Oh, and drive two hours to get there.) I’ve seen church members not miss a business meeting so they could vote their way.  And on and on I could go, but ask a group of believers to attend a prayer meeting, a prayer advance, or even pray, and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.

When are we as believers who have the very ear of our Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God (Psalm 34:17), the blood-bought invitation by our Righteous Advocate and Great High Priest to enter into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16: 1 John 2:1-2), and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), when are we going to make prayer a blessed, expectant, humble, dependent, relational priority of our lives?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

Keep the Fire Burning


The recent cool temps have beckoned us to enjoy our backyard fire pit.  Last Saturday night, we had 16 folks gathered around the fire sharing testimonies and singing under the stars accompanied by two guitarists. Monday night, our daughter and son-in-law joined us for some family conversation and ice cream around the fire.  After they departed, my wife and I roasted marshmallows and talked for a while.

There’s something about a fire that draws you into some good fellowship.  There’s something about a fire that also creates some good practical spiritual applications for life.  Early on in the evening, the fire was full and burning bright.  To keep it that way, I had to keep adding logs to stoke the fire, and I had to pay attention lest it die out.


As I write this post, our fire pit has no life in it due to letting the fire go out and the cold temps settle in overnight on the remaining ashes and burnt wood.  No one is sitting around the fire.  No one is attracted to its glow, nor warmed by its flames, nor sustained by the food cooked over its embers.  But, when the cools temps roll around this evening, that beckoning call will return.


How careful we must be to keep our hearts burning for the Lord (Luke 24:32;Romans 12:11).  Just as I have to keep an eye on the fire to maintain its blaze, may I tell you that the best way to keep your spiritual heart on fire is through intimate prayer.  That includes your daily time of sitting at Jesus’ feet with your Bible and your eyes wide open listening and praying the Scriptures (Luke 10:38-42). Also that includes conversing with Him throughout your day (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Combined, that’s keeping your eye on the fire, the Lord Jesus Christ.  All of genuine, authentic life comes from Him and abiding in Him (Psalm 16:11; John 1:1-4; 11:25; 14:6; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-4; John 15:1-17).  As you pray, your heart will be warmed, your countenance will be changed, your life will be sustained, and you’ll find yourself wanting to be close to fire as you dwell in this cold, dark, sin-filled world.

Are you cold?  Stoke the fire. Get closer to the fire. Keep your eye on the fire. Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer is the vital breath of the Christian; not the thing that makes him alive, but the evidence that he is alive.”

Friday’s Findings

Being Content with Saying No to Truly Good Opportunities –Here is an excellent read from Randy Alcorn that would help all of us who struggle with saying “no” to good things in our lives, especially those of us who are perpetual “doers.”

Four Stewardship Habits to Teach Your ChildrenParents, please read and apply!  In a “give me, give me, take, take, entitlement world,” your children need to know God’s plans and priorities.

A Word About Men & Marriage – “Gentlemen: You are not boys. Women are not objects. Christ is most assuredly King.”

One of the Reasons I Have Always Loved Coming Home for Over 33 Years – My wife’s blog post from yesterday.

The WildsOne of the best ministries on the planet since 1969!!

The Joy of Summer!

THE WILDS Sign

Since the summer of 1971, I have attended camp at the Wilds located near Brevard, NC (The Wilds Camp and Conference Center).  God has used this ministry to greatly impact my life for all these years as well as my family and church.  So, needless to say, I am excited for our juniors and teens to be going next week, July 21-24!!

The Wilds camp verse, Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), is quoted at every meal and fleshed-out in every facet of camp life.  The camp’s mission statement is so intertwined through their programs and staff:  Using the unique benefits of Christian camping, we serve people by presenting the Truth of God with the love of God so lives can be changed to the glory of God.

This coming Sunday, we will be receiving a special love offering to be a blessing to our campers who attend.  We believe so strongly in the ministry opportunity of summer camping that we want to do whatever we can to help our young people not just turn our good but to be godly.

The following link (Teen Camp Video) will give you a 7-minute glimpse into last week’s Teen Camp.  Watch it, pray for the kids who are going next week along with sponsors, Andrew and Alli Isbell. Adults, after watching the video, you need to plan on attending an adult camp in the near future. You will come away changed because you have gotten away from all the distractions and have been presented the Truth of God with the love of God so your life can be changed for the glory of God.

 

The Waterfalls of THE WILDS