Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Is God Hiding?

Probing Proverbs: 1:20-22 20 Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?

How desirous is God for us to walk in wisdom? Is He really a distant God, Who demands much but supplies little help? The writer of this Proverb would disagree very much! In his poetic use of language, he brings the idea of God’s wisdom to life, if you would. Making wisdom a woman living in a city, actively reaching out to the humans in that city. Notice the intensity that is used to describe wisdom’s behavior. “Shouts” is a word that does not commutate a passive, inconspicuous action! When you shout you are aggressively attempting to get someone’s attention. “Cries” also shows a fervent desire to communicate, but notice where this takes place; “the public square.” 
This is in the center of all that is going on in the city; it is not in some hidden place that a person has to make a special pilgrimage to! Wisdom “calls,” again notice where, the “main” street and at the “city gate.” The picture is quite clear; God’s wisdom is aggressively reaching out to us, unlike the many Hollywood versions of God where He is nothing more than a passive force or energy. Also, contrary to the many teachings of various gurus, that require a mystic adventure and an arduous journey to find God, our God is in the center of man’s life, not hiding or difficult to find! There are many Scriptures that attest to how God has plainly revealed Himself to us. Consider just two:

Romans 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

This section of Romans is famous as it challenges us to consider all of Creation as the evidence of our Creator. Most times we think of the stars and the earth, but I find verse 19 especially interesting, when read in the NASB. “God is evident WITHIN them!” If an individual is honest, they need not look outside themselves to see clear proof of a designer. Just look at your hand for a while, move it, snap your fingers, consider that you alone have a unique fingerprint…unlike any of the other 7 billion people on this earth! 
Study how the human eye is made and works; within reading just several pages on this, you will be dazzled at the design. Everything about our body and how it works testifies to the reality of a Creator.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart

I have never met a child that does not believe in “forever.” In the heart of our thoughts, we know we live beyond our body. I find the strongest proof of this is the intensity that Atheist show to prove something they claim they don’t believe in! If someone wanted me to believe that ET planted us here, I would disagree, but I would not get irate, file a law suit to remove their statue of ET, much less spend all the time and energy of my life trying to disprove something I did not believe in. 
When an Atheist tells me they do not believe in God, I listen, if they want to hear my conviction I will share, but then I move on. I don’t get angry, or demean them, and I won’t spend time…which is valuable…trying to stop them from believing in what they want to believe in. I think the fact of eternity existing in their heart, placed there by God, is something they fear and is why they become so fervent to disprove it!

God is near, but He leaves it up to us to open our eyes and ears to Him. As this Proverb demonstrates, those that refuse to listen to Him do so because they willfully refuse to. The three words used in this Proverb describe their attitude well:

They insist on being simpleminded, relish their mocking, and hate knowledge.

“The so what?How about you? Are you keeping your heart open to hear your Creator share His wisdom to you? Are you hiding from God, while at the same time claiming you cannot see evidence of Him? Remember, God has made us free to do whatever we want…except escape the consequences! The consequences can be heavenly or hellish; it’s our choice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Which is more difficult: To GO to the Philippines or to LEAVE the Philippines?

Importance of communication: A lawyer prosecuting a controversial case asked the witness:  "Now, Mr. Jones did you or did you not, on the date in question, or at any other time, previously or subsequently, say or even intimate to the defendant or anyone else, whether friend or acquaintance or in fact a stranger, that the statement imputed to you, whether just or unjust, and denied by the plaintiff, was a matter of no consequence or otherwise?  Answer!  Did you or did you not?” The witness pondered for a little while and then said, "Did I or did I not WHAT?”

Proper communication requires a clear message and a listening ear! The illustration I used is one of a confused message. When it comes to the Lord, His message is never confused. We, on the other hand at times can be very poor listeners. I felt led to share a most dangerous one with you today. Today I received another invite to speak at a retreat in the Philippines, which is one of quite a few in the last month. Due to this, I felt led to share with all of my friends on FB what is going on. My prayer is that you can learn from my mistakes. 

He that has ears, Listen to what the Spirit says!

As far back as I can recall, from the point of my salvation, the word Go never frightened me. Even though I loved the family I was Pastor of in Roanoke, when the Lord spoke GO to our family, we went. In 1994 we packed our family of 5 into 10 suit cases and moved to the Philippines. Understanding that hindsight is 20/20, I realize now that I was always prepared to GO, but was not ready to hear the word, LEAVE. I want so much to challenge you to always be alert to the sin of resisting the Lord.

In 2011, deep down inside me I sensed something had changed in how my medication was not working with the disease I am dealing with, while, unwilling to consider that this might be the gentle whisper of my Lord saying, leave. Refusing to think about it, matters were made worse, by not communicating this to my life partner and closest friend. DD. She could see things were not right, emotionally shutting down, left me deaf to both the Lord and my wife. By November of 2014, my body was paying a very heavy price, experiencing habitual insomnia and constant pain. Finally, I went to see my Rheumatologists. After examining me and telling me my meds were useless and I should stop using them, I asked, Then what should I do? He said, As difficult as this will be for you to hear, I think God is telling you to go home. That answer was not in MY agenda, instead I did the opposite, I pushed harder to remain active.

Sin is a snowball rolling down a very steep hill beloved, it doesnt just remain the same size, its growth can be exponential. Resisting your Masters voice opens the door for all kinds of sin. Bad decisions, bad communication, and repressed angerI could go on. Finally when my body just stopped and DD called for help, I had to face the Truth, but only partially. Why partially? Because I am a stiff neck sinner! Still trying to manipulate a way to remain on the field, God became even firmer and allowed our landlord to close our contract on our Condo. At the end of February, while in the USA on home ministry, we were given a very short notice that we needed to close our Condo in Manila. Scrabbling, we secured tickets immediately and arrived in Manila with 10 days to clear our Condo. God had been attempting to gently move me to see He was closing our ministry in the Philippines for now, but I refused to listen. Flying back to Manila meditating with the Lord, He gave me the time to face what my heart had resisted.

Resisting my Lord led to behavior that was very inconsistent with who Christ has been molding me into for the last 4 decades. I made decisions and took actions that were not what God would choose. This actually made my health worse and caused my wife great concern. In fact, the greatest damage I believe was to the spirit of my wife, who remained very Christ like.

When we commit to follow Christ, when He tells us to go, we go. However, it also means when He instructs us to move or leave, if we are obedient, we do it! Our motive is irrelevant, in fact that is one of the ploys our darkened heart will use to help us rationalize our actions. When we came to the Philippines I was convinced I would be there until I went home to be with the Lord. That sounds dedicated, but it is not! Obeying is the foundation of dedication! The Lord knows all, and He was guiding me to the next step in His plan for our life. I had my own agenda, and that reaped some stupid (mangmang) decisions and actions.

As painful as this has been for me to face, now that I have, there is a renewed fellowship with the Lord and an anticipation of what the future holds. I have been spending these past weeks restoring my walk with the Lord and reconnecting with my wife, showing her that nothing on this earth comes before her.

We still love each other very much and like each other most times. Based, primarily on my sin of resisting the Lords voice, DD and I both know we do not like where the silence and arguing has taken us. We are both fully committed to the Lord and finishing our race together as lovers and friends.
I share this with the hope that all my brothers and sisters will take a moment to reflect on their own heart. The title asked whether to go or leave is more difficult. The answer is neither! What is difficult is to refuse to listen to your flesh instead of the Lord. I have loved how God has used us in the Philippines. Yet, I realize now I had allowed myself to think I was called to the Philippines. That is a lie, shrouded in what appears to be a motive of dedication. All of us are called to only ONE thingONE PERSON! Jesus Christ alone has the right to call us, and to Him we owe ourselves, not to a ministry or a geographical location. Guard your heart and keep your ears open to His voice.

Our hearts continue to desire God to move mightily in the Philippines. Our minds will remain filled with memories of friends and the love we have shared with so many there. Even our discussions over the past weeks have been filled with our thoughts for our family in the Philippines.

DD and I are driving from the west coast to the east coast spending time reconnecting and praying about our future. If we remain in missions, where? If not, what? The Pastorate? Teaching? Something else? We dont knowBUT we do know Who does know and all we need is to follow Him!

Beloved, learn from this bald, chubby, ugly old sinner! Dont try and learn this lesson for yourself, it is not worth it! The man who discipled me wrote me a note that touched my heart deeply. The last sentence he penned to me was this: Many are called, few are chosen.  You, Sir, are one of                                           the chosen. Just cooperate.

I admonish you to cooperate with your Master, you will never regret it.

Take a momentwhat do you hear the Lord saying to your heart?

Write it down:___________________________________

Dont resist!