Sunday Worship in Mzuzu

Africa 9

One the blessings of our journey to Africa was the opportunity to keep up my journal entries. These writings are very dear to me.  They recount my walk with Christ, my relationship with Denise, the grace blessings of every life as well as many, many other things that my mind would not recall.

Here’s a partial entry from Sunday, July 9

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What a glorious day!! Sunday worship at Charity Baptist Church was a huge blessing.

  • God gave grace to preach the first service.
  • The congregational singing was powerful; watching Daniel and Mark Anton lead the congregation is fun to watch; then other men get come up to lead a song which they call a special; the choir of young folk was awesome.
  • The offering is received by folks going forward and putting their offering in a basket while the congregation sings.
  • Matt preached a powerful sermon from Ruth 2 on the subject of grace.
  • The service ended in a very touching way. Pastor Daniel had the whole USA mission team line up across the front.  Then he said, “I want our church to come up and greet you and place a love gift in the basket.  It won’t buy the team a car but it will buy you a Coke.  When you all drink it, think of us and pray for us.”  Wow!  These poor folks gave out of their poverty.  As we sang, hugged and swayed, what a special time it was!!!
  • Another brother stood and shared what a blessing it was to have blacks and whites worshiping together in the unity of Christ.

Love Offering

Youth Choir

Africa 11

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

Sabbatical Journey #4 – Away

Well, summer is over.  What did you do for your vacation with family or just your spouse or with some friends?  Disney?  The beach?  The mountains? Did you take any day trips?  How about a recreational excursion?  What planning went into your time away?   What was the result of your vacation?  Any take-aways?

Vacations can be a huge refreshment that can leave many wonderful memories, provide a break from your daily routine, and give some much needed rest. Interesting enough, sometimes when you return home, you need another week to just recoup from your vacation (Lol).

Question:  When was the last time you took a spiritual vacation?  No, I do not mean running away or taking a vacation from the Lord, but a planned set of days and location where you and/or family go to grow your relationship with Jesus Christ?  Have you ever taken such a trip?

This sabbatical was so extremely helpful spiritually.  My wife and I spent most of our mornings at home, on the front or back porch, reading, praying, studying, journaling, and listening.  Some days I would travel to the lake, or a secluded mountain top, or a quiet stream and spend my time letting God teach me and whittle away at my heart.

Perhaps you could spend one day a quarter at a place like Fairhaven Ministries, Roan Mountain, TN, and give that whole day to just meeting with the Lord.  Pack your lunch, take your books, and go hide away with the Lord. You, too, could find that lake, stream, mountain top or other secluded area.

Another great opportunity would be to attend Family Camp at a place like The Wilds in Brevard, NC.  There you would have time to get alone with the Lord; time for just you and your spouse to study and pray together; and opportunities to meet together as a family.  The preaching services, music, and workshops would draw you and your whole family closer to the Lord.  And a side note, I promise you would not spend as much on this vacation as you would for the same amount time, motel, and meals as you would at Disney.  And, your whole family will come home stronger in their walk with Christ than if they had spent a week at Disney. (By the way, I’m not hatin’ on Disney. Just sayin’. . .)

So, when you plan for your vacations and get-aways for the months ahead, how about planning some time to get alone with the Lord?  You will never regret it.

Mark 1:35 – And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Luke 6:12 – In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

How’s Your Passion?

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Recently, I was asked this question by a dear friend.  We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, and after getting caught up, he asked, “How’s Your Passion?”  Passion for what?  Coffee?  UK Wildcats? Running?  Hiking?  Cars? Food?

Having known this person for many years, I knew what he meant.  He wanted to know how my passion for Christ was going?  He went on to say that recently two seminary students had ask him how they could keep their own passion going.  His answer, “You have to get up every day, early in the morning, and meet with God.”  His passion for Christ is on display every day and is so vital to him that he has even prepared a special place in his home to meet with God.  There you will find the fireplace, his chair, table, lamp, books, music, quiet and whatever else is necessary for him to pray, study and sit at Jesus feet.

Passion for Christ cannot be found doing ministry.  Passion for Christ cannot be gained from someone else.  Passion for Christ cannot be purchased at Lifeway Christian Bookstore. Passion for Christ comes by meeting daily with Him, alone, letting His Word read you, seeking His face, listening to His voice, and pouring out your heart to Him in prayer and worship.

Psalm 63 shows us another man, David, who was passionate about seeking God.

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

Pastor Steven Cole puts it, “David expresses longing for God’s presence, praise, joy, fellowship with God, and confidence in God’s salvation. The psalm shows us that David’s priority was to seek the Lord. Seeking after God should be our most important priority.”

So, let me ask you like my friend did me, “How’s your passion?”

Friday’s Findings

Once again, here are a few links that I believe will be worth looking into.  As we move to the end of this week, and begin the new week on Sunday, prepare your heart through meeting with God in prayer and Bible reading to worship Him in a powerful way on the Lord’s Day!!

Jesus GeniePaul Tripp asks, “When you receive blessing, how do you define blessing? Be honest – what do you want from God? Or maybe this is a more provocative way of saying it: what kind of Messiah do you want Jesus to be?”

My Prayer Journal – My wife has said on numerous occasions, “If the house were on fire, besides my Bible, this is the one item that I would not want to leave behind!”  Here’s a great post on a way to lift the level of your prayer life, your relationship with God!

Earth’s Largest Water Reservoir Found Hidden Under the US  and Water Deep in Earth’s MantleGood information in reference to the Flood (Genesis 7:11).

The Joy of Running a 5K – How much I have missed running due to surgery recovery.  I understand this post completely!  Wearing my running shoes in the house even if I can’t hit the country roads yet!

I Will RiseWhat joy to know that Christ came to be born, to die, and rise from the tomb that we might live!!!  Watch, listen and give thanks with a grateful heart to our Awesome God!!  The best, indeed, is yet to come!!

Marmaduke Size Worship

One of my all-time favorite single cartoons has Billy Winslow standing at the drug store soda fountain watching the waitress load up his ice cream cone.  Just as she begins the process, Billy seizes the opportunity of perhaps frightening the server into put more on the cone than usual.  So he turns to his Great Dane pet and says, “Bark now, Marmaduke! Bark now!”  Billy didn’t want just a child-size portion, he wanted an overflow portion!  He wanted that ice cream to fill the cone and run over!

Question:  When you attended church yesterday, was your worship child-size portion or did you worship out of the overflow?  What I mean is, did you come to church expecting to meet with God?  Were you excited about joining with other believers in corporate praise?  Did you sing to Lord with all your heart, give to the Lord with all your heart, serve the Lord with all you heart? Did you hunger to hear the Word, and then respond to what God said to you?  Did you leave the service saying, “I have seen the Lord!  I met with Him today!  Here is what He said to me.”

Could much of Psalm 96 been written to describe your worship from yesterday?

O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.

Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.

Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice

13 Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

My challenge to you today is to so spend time in the Word this week sitting at Jesus’ feet letting the Holy Spirit teach you (Matthew 11:28-30; John 16:13-15), listening to worship music though out the week, talking to others about your God and your Savior, meeting with Him on your knees, mediating and memorizing the Word so much that when you come to worship next Sunday, you don’t need Marmaduke to bark.  You are more than ready to worship out of the overflow.  You don’t need someone or some group to lead you into worship.  You have lived a life of worship all week that is so rich and God-glorifying that Christ will be magnified by your overflowing worship!!

See you next Sunday!  I’ll be ready to shout to the Lord, give Him praise, listen to His voice through the preached Word, and join you in preparation for that eternal day of worship and praise!  Let’s come with an “ice cream cone that is running over!”