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Fuel Your Soul with Encouragement – Listen to Your Heart

EncouragementKey Bible Verse: The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain. Proverbs 10:11

Dig Deeper: Proverbs 10:10-14

When we need the nourishment of food, our stomachs get our attention, either with hunger pains or the sounds of gurgling. We tend to respond to these signs of hunger like responding to the call of a dinner bell. We seek snacks and sit down for meals like clockwork. However, we often ignore the longing of our hearts for a serving of life-sustaining encouragement.

When we deprive ourselves of encouragement, our attitudes and self-esteem dwindle. A shortage of inspiration negatively affects our performance and severely stunts our growth. A lack of affirmation shrivels our confidence and hope.

Are your mind and soul starving for encouragement? Listen to your heart. Is it signaling that it is feeding time? If so, take the initiative, and tend to this need.

This is my challenge: find a dependable, encouraging friend or mentor to build you up with affirming words and needed encouragement. Strive to meet with this person at least once a month. Let your mentor’s uplifting spirit feed you with right thinking and positive motivation. Consume that fruitful energy as if you were drinking a high-impact smoothie. Let your friend’s encouraging words satisfy your inner hunger and thirst.

—Steve Kubicek in Up and In

My Response: A friend who speaks words of encouragement into my soul is … Who needs to hear words of encouragement from me?

Adapted from Up and In (Thomas Nelson, 2013)

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, thank you for comforting the hurting and encouraging the discouraged; thank you for caring friends who speak words of encouragement into my life; this week help me to look for ways to be an encouragement to my family, friends, and coworkers.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #13

Money is a means to the greater end of glorifying God

as we demonstrate practical Christianity in our lives.

 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

We’ve all heard the expression, “Money talks.”

That’s true. Money does talk.  Oh, not in words or phrases that constitute a language, but money talks.

Because it is valuable to us, how we use it communicates volumes to those about us.  People tend to spend their money on things that are important to them.  With the exception perhaps of taxes, all of us vote with the contents of our purses, wallets and checkbooks concerning what means the most to us.

In fact, we could even go so far as to say that a person who does not spend money on something which is supposedly very important in his or her life really does not place much value on that item or activity.

Suppose for a moment that you think “little league” baseball for kids is very important.  You talk about it wherever you go.  You attend the games.  You enroll your own children in the program.  But when someone calls you to ask you to be a sponsor of a team, or when someone “passes the hat” at a game to pay for equipment, you refuse to participate.

Would you not agree that an impartial observer of such behavior would conclude correctly that little league baseball really does not mean much to you?  Your lack of financial support would outweigh the other positive aspects of your attendance, enthusiasm and participation.

The same thing is true in the spiritual realm.  It is one thing to talk about Christianity.  It is yet another to demonstrate our faith by how we use the money which God has entrusted to us.  And that is especially true in our support of the ministry of Central United Methodist Church.  As someone said recently in one church just before the offering was received, “Lord, in spite of all we say and do, this is what we think of you.”

Or as the Lord Jesus put it, “ . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

 

 

 

 

Fuel Your Soul with Encouragement – Like a Cool, Refreshing Drink

EncouragementKey Study Passage: Psalm 23

Who Said It … Steve Kubicek

Steve Kubicek has more than 30 years of corporate experience, including 18 years as an executive with Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Company—the world’s largest publicly traded copper company. Retired since 2005, Steve leads a men’s group at his church and is involved in various other ministries. He is the author of Up and In.

What he Said … Like a Cool, Refreshing Drink

Encouragement spurs on the downtrodden and heavy-burdened like a cool, refreshing drink can restore a weary traveler on a sunny day. Imagine packaging liquid encouragement in bottles and offering it to the masses. Just think of the spirit that would prevail throughout the world if we could all reach into our cabinets or refrigerators and pull out a bottle of refreshing encouragement, the lemonade for the soul, which truly would be an uplifting drink.

Medical science has observed that our bodies require a balanced supply of nutrients for good health and long-term sustainability. When the body lacks an essential nutrient, physical symptoms appear that highlight the deficiency. These symptoms serve as warning signals so that we can recognize the issue and take remedial measures. Does the same principle hold true for the essential life ingredient of encouragement? I contend it does. Our bodies signal us when we need to correct our encouragement deficiency. We receive warning messages when we are about to go down like a sinking ship.

Adapted from Up and In (Thomas Nelson, 2013)

Prayer for the Week:  Heavenly Father, thank you for comforting the hurting and encouraging the discouraged; thank you for caring friends who speak words of encouragement into my life; this week help me to look for ways to be an encouragement to my family, friends, and coworkers.

 

Live the Adventure – The Christian Life

The Christian LifeKey Study Passage: Matthew 28:16-20

With Judas out of the picture, the 11 remaining disciples gathered at the mountain where the resurrected Jesus had told them to meet him. When Jesus showed up, they all worshiped him, even those who struggled with their doubts. Then Jesus prepared them for the most exciting adventure ever with these words:

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  1. Before Jesus gave his disciples specific instructions for reaching the world, he said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” Why is this significant? (See Luke 10:22; John 5:19; Eph. 1:19-22; Col. 1:15-19.)
  2. Do you believe the instructions in today’s passage apply to every Christian? Why or why not? (See John 8:31-32, 15:4-9, 17:9-26.)
  3. Why is it essential to realize that we can’t live the faith adventure on our own power? (See John 15:5; Eph. 2:4-10; James 4:4-10;2 Pet. 1:2-4.)

Spend Time in Prayer: Pray for two or three men you’d like to see come to faith or live as better disciples. Ask God to show you how you might help at least one of these men on their faith journey.

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

Live the Adventure – Never a Dull Moment

The Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God.   – Luke 9:2

Dig Deeper: Luke 9:1-6

When Jesus called the disciples to follow him, the average person in the first century never traveled outside a 30-mile radius of their birthplace. These men were planning on living their entire lives fishing the Sea of Galilee, but Jesus sent them to the ends of the earth. He took them adventuring with him—they hiked the Mount of Transfiguration, sailed the Sea of Galilee, and went on long camping trips.

Along the way, they witnessed remarkable miracles on a regular basis. And they did more than witness them. They filleted the miraculous catch of fish and ate it. They toasted the water that Jesus turned into wine and then drank it to the dregs. They hugged Lazarus while he still had his grave clothes on. You can’t put a price tag on those kind of experiences, but once you’ve had them, they define you forever.

The very nature of the gospel is Jesus inviting the disciples on an adventure. To do what they’d never done and go where they’d never gone. Never a dull moment!

Jesus is calling you to the same adventure as his original disciples. He is offering you a life full of daring. Don’t you want in on the action? The moment you say yes, the adventure begins.

—Mark Batterson in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What adventure might Jesus be inviting me to? What would keep me from taking on this adventure?

Thought to Apply: I am discovering that in trying to find God’s will and the shape of the Christian life I have begun an adventure so great that its total completion will always be ahead. —Keith Miller (Christian writer)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon.

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Join the Adventure

The Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  – John 8:12, ESV

Dig Deeper: John 12:44-46

Jesus was the quintessential adventurer. Leaving the comfort of heaven, he entered the four dimensions of space and time. He created and set out on the craziest adventure of them all: restoring broken image-bearers to himself. He didn’t do it with angel armies. He didn’t overthrow the Roman government or claim the kingship that was rightfully his. He was a middle-of-the-marketplace Messiah, who rubbed elbows with the masses.

He hung out at wells and in living rooms and on hillsides and invited anyone and everyone to join him. Jesus didn’t come with an agenda; he was the agenda. He came that he might draw all men unto himself. With his grace, with his truth, he lets us get in on the action with a life-altering invitation: “Come, follow me” (Matt. 4:19).

When Jesus invites us to do life with him, he invites us to rub elbows with those he loves: the lost, the broken, the misled, and the misfits. Just like Jesus, we need to find ourselves in the middle of the marketplace. If we are separating ourselves from the world around us, we are off mission. And even worse? We are missing out on the adventure Jesus has for us.

—Mark Batterson in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What ministries in my church or service programs in my community might help me more consistently “rub elbows with those Jesus loves: the lost, the broken, and the misfits”?

Thought to Apply: We can find and fulfill our purpose by responding to the clear, simple call of Jesus Christ: “Follow me.” He is the doorway to fulfilling our destiny, where our divine design and God-ordained purpose live in perfect harmony. —Charles Swindoll (pastor, writer)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon.

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Boldly Go

The Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”  – Mark 4:41

Dig Deeper: Mark 4:35-41

Jesus meets us where we are and says, “I’ve got a place for you. A new life. A new character. A new way of seeing things. How would you like to go on an adventure?”

Sometimes getting a clear view of Jesus is the greatest challenge to following him. Time and distance can obscure him and make him insipid.

Dorothy Sayers said:

The people who hanged the Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore—on the contrary; they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality. … We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild,” and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.

I don’t want to muffle up the shattering personality. I want to revel in it, then reflect it.

When we go adventuring with Jesus, he takes us places we never dreamed we could go and gives us ideas we never thought we could have.

Source of quote: A Matter of Eternity: Selected writings of Dorothy L. Sayers.

—Richard Foth in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: In what ways has the church in America tamed Jesus? According to the four gospels, what is Jesus like? What sets him apart from other religious leaders?

Thought to Apply: “Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain; if we perish in the seeking, why, how small a thing is death!”—Dorothy Sayers (British crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon.

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

Live the Adventure – Gather Experiences

The Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: “But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”  – Matthew 6:20, NET

Dig Deeper: Matthew 6:19-24

May 27, 2005, ranks as one of the most memorable days of my life, and I learned a lesson that has defined my life ever since. It was the last day of our mission trip to Ethiopia.

The date is stamped in my memory because it was one of the craziest days of my life. After a week of intense ministry, our team journeyed into the wilderness of the Ethiopian outback. We got held up at gunpoint by shepherds with AK-47s, went swimming in a natural spring heated by a volcano, and did a game drive through Awash National Park—all in a day’s adventure. We ended the day worshiping God around a campfire.

That night, tucked away in my pup tent, I was journaling about the amazing day I had just experienced and I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit say, “Mark, don’t accumulate possessions, accumulate experiences.” That moment, in the middle of an African game park, reshaped the way I viewed life.

That two-word mantra—accumulate experiences—is my modus operandi. It frames my life. It also frames our family. Lora and I want our kids to get in on the action, and it’s our job to engineer those experiences.

—Mark Batterson in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What are the benefits of accumulating possessions? What are the benefits of accumulating experiences?

Thought to Apply: The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped—it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory.—Eugene Peterson (pastor, scholar, writer)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon.

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

Live the Adventure – Designer Destinies

The Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.  – Psalm 16:11, The Message

Dig Deeper: Psalm 16

I have come to believe that from the moment of conception, we are being formed with an adventure in mind. We were created to touch, taste, smell, see, and hear life. Our Creator has big plans for us. No settling for mediocrity. Rather, we have a high calling etched into our bones and written on our hearts.

God wants to engage us from first squall to last drawn breath and deliver us into a life he has dreamed for us. Whether our earliest memories are sailing the high seas in a steamship or walking in a kindergarten class by ourselves for the first time, the exploration of the world within us and around us is a drumbeat. And the beat goes on.

We were made to explore. For some of us that exploration is more outward than inward, like Admiral Robert Peary going to the North Pole. For others it is more inward than outward, like Blaise Pascal and his thoughts or Thomas Merton’s contemplations. Whichever it is, we were made for curiosity and more. That design drives us. It shapes our thinking and our dreams. It forms expectations of what life should be and lays the foundation of who we will become. It shapes our destiny.

I would submit it is our destiny.

—Richard Foth in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What specific experiences have shaped my life and faith?

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon.

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

Live the Adventure – Defining Moments

The Christian LifeKey Study Passage: Matthew 28:16-20

Who Said It … Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. He is The New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker and The Grave Robber. Mark lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lora, and three children. Visit him at markbatterson.com.

Mark and his friend Richard Foth, minister-at-large in Washington, DC, coauthored A Trip Around the Sun—the source of this week’s readings.

What he Said … Defining Moments

Alfred Adler, the famed psychologist, is said to have begun every counseling session by asking his clients to tell him about their earliest memory. They would share those memories, and no matter what their answer was, Adler would say, “And so life is.”

If your earliest memory is flying in an airplane to visit your grandparents, life is a journey. If your first recollection is huddling under the covers on a summer’s night as thunder claps and lightning strikes, life is a storm.

I genuinely believe our outlook on life is determined by a few defining moments when God meets us and we meet God. It’s Jacob’s wrestling match with God. It’s Moses at the burning bush. It’s Peter walking on water. Those moments are more than memories. They are the lenses through which we perceive the present and dream of the future. Those are the moments when God helps us see ourselves for who we really are.

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon.

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

Missions: From Start to Finish

Caleb provides the biblical ideal for a “finisher.” Over a lifetime he has consistently served as a tribal leader for Judah.

At age 85, he is still alert and fit. What’s more, he is chomping at the bit to take on a fresh challenge. What a model to emulate!

 Interact with God’s Word:  Joshua 14:6-14

  1. What was Caleb’s role (Numbers 13:3-16) when he was selected for the Canaan scouting expedition?
  2. The scouting party majority was intimidated by the Anakites (Numbers 13:31-33). How did the outlook of Caleb and Joshua differ from their “grasshopper complex”?
  3. Why (v. 7) were Caleb’s words (Numbers 13:1, 30) a “good report”?
  4. How do we know (v. 12) that Caleb was not a naïve optimist?
  5. Why did God consider the majority report a rejection of Him (Numbers 14:11)?
  6. How does Caleb’s appeal to Joshua (v. 12) contrast with the usual assumption in our day about retirement pursuits?
  7. What (vv. 11-12) was Caleb’s assessment of his retirement-age capabilities? What was his ambition?
  8. What (vv. 13-14) was the outcome of Caleb’s venture?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to make you receptive to any assignment He may have for you, regardless of its location, duration, or your age.

Joshua 14:6-14

6 A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, 8 but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. 9 So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’

10 “Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 12 So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”

13 So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as his portion of land. 14 Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

Missions: From Start to Finish – A Nurseryman Finisher

Key Bible Verse: “Let’s go at once to take the land,” Caleb said. “We can certainly conquer it!” Numbers 13:30

Bonus Reading: Joshua 14:6-14

The Sahara Desert advancing across Mauritania is forcing this country’s once nomadic population to its two cities. The National Geographic called the result “the largest refugee camp in the world.” The government asked Impact Teams International for help. That’s how Bill Stoffregen, a Christian nurseryman from North Carolina, landed in Mauritania. Appalled at the intense heat and lack of water, Bill questioned if any cash crop would grow there—until he spied a row of green trees. “What are those?” he asked.

“Neem trees,” said his interpreter. Bill knew that neem is an ingredient in insecticides. A computer search divulged that neem products treat wounds and a variety of ailments. And because the tree’s roots grow three feet underground for every foot above, it might hold drifting sands in place.

Excited by Bill’s report, Mauritanian officials agreed to explore the tree’s commercial potential. The research, which Bill funded from his savings, revealed that $1 million invested in planting trees and building a processing plant would create many jobs. Commercial shipments have now begun. Bill has no doubt that God used him to launch this project.

—Anne Garris in Today’s Christian

My Response: To explore ways to invest my experience or resources in Christ’s kingdom, I’ll ____.

Thought to Apply: What we give up for Christ we gain. What we keep back for ourselves is our real loss. ;mdash;J. Hudson Taylor (English missionary to China)

Adapted from our sister publication Today’s Christian(9-10/04)

Prayer for the Week:  Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – The Business Plan

Key Bible Verse: “If you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.”  – Mark 8:35

Bonus Reading: Mark 8:34-35

Rusty met the Lord as a college athlete and accepted His call to penetrate China’s bamboo curtain with the gospel. Convinced that the best entry was through business, Rusty learned sales working for a world-class retailer in Seattle. Next, he spent two years in Taiwan learning the Mandarin language and Chinese culture. He was hired by an international manufacturer and through hard work, Rusty quickly advanced in the company, becoming its lead representative in Beijing.

Today, 15 years on, Rusty is one of the most respected Christian businessmen in China. An article about Rusty in a Beijing newspaper noted his contributions to the Chinese people and characterized him as trustworthy. His business platform provided the basis for a reputation that opened the minds and hearts of many.

He’s witnessed to thousands of Chinese business people and led many to Christ. He’s supported the Chinese church and helped hundreds of mission workers and Chinese believers establish themselves in business and ministry.

—Mike Barnett in The Changing Face of World Missions

My Response: In what arena am I—or could I become—qualified to demonstrate what a follower of Jesus is like?

Thought to Apply: There comes to many of us the choice between a life of contraction and one of expansion; a life of small dimensions and one of widening horizons. ;mdash;John R. Mott (Student Volunteer movement leader)

Adapted from The Changing Face of World Missions (Baker, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – Brief Task, Lasting Results

Key Bible Verse: And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message.  – 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Bonus Reading: 1 Thess. 1:4-10a

Four university students from Canada partnered with four from Daystar University in Nairobi for six weeks in the summer of 1996. They were assigned to Olepolis, a Masai village in a Kenya area with almost no Christians. Some 80 percent of the population was alcoholic, with women brewing corn beer for their families.

Sarone, my Masai friend, arranged for the team to camp on his family’s farm. Together they built a bridge of rocks across the local river, which annually cut the village off from the outside world for up to four weeks. They also spent hours visiting families in the shade of trees outside their homes, “chewing the news.”

In response to their demonstration of the gospel and God’s love, the villagers requested that another Christian mazungu (white man) be sent to live with them and help them develop their land.

Seven years later, during meetings in Nairobi, I bumped into Sarone, with three elders from the new Masai church in Olepolis. They recalled the impact of seeing young Masai and Canadian Christians living and serving together. Over 300 members, they reported, were the fruit of the seeds the team had planted! Then they shared their plans for evangelizing surrounding villages.

—Randy Friesen in EMQ

My Response: Should I be content to plant seeds, trusting God for long-term fruit, or __?

Thought to Apply: It may be He has only sent me here as a stopgap. Part of a soldier’s duty is to fill gaps, you know. ;mdash;Amy Carmichael (British missionary to India)

Adapted from EMQ (Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 10/05)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – From Short to Long

Key Bible Verse: It is right for me to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. Romans 15:17

Bonus Reading: Romans 15:15b-21

Straight out of high school, Ken went to work for a water drilling company in the mountains of North Carolina. A believer, he not only loved his work, but he also fell in love with and married Carolyn, the boss’s daughter.

After two volunteer short-term assignments in West Africa, he and Carolyn started praying about a way to serve overseas. But with no formal training, God’s answer looked to them like a no.

Then a friend introduced Ken to a young man who wanted a well dug at his farm home. Ken remembers saying, “Franklin, if you ever need to find water where you’re working in Africa, let me know.”

Months later Franklin Graham took Ken up on his offer, asking him to go to Ethiopia to explore drilling wells there. Ken launched a major well-drilling program for the National Evangelical Church, showing the love of Christ to thousands with pure, clean, crystal-clear drinking water.

As international director of projects for Samaritan’s Purse, Ken Isaacs now oversees work in nearly 100 countries. How did he land there? “God raised me up,” he marvels, “literally from the mud, as a blue-collar well driller.”

—Melvin Cheatham in Make a Difference

My Response: I’ll pray about using my skills among the world’s poor.

Thought to Apply: In 1944 the Lord called me from aviation to Himself, and now He has sent me back to aviation for Himself.  – Nate Saint (missionary pilot martyred in Ecuador)

Adapted from Make a Difference (W Publishing, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – A Cyclist Starter

Key Bible Verse: The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:5

Ted Webb of Uxbridge, Ontario, traveled to Malawi three years ago on a mission trip, and discovered the importance of bicycles to impoverished Malawians. With his years of fixing, building, and selling bikes, the 21-year-old avid cyclist observed people walking downhill because their brakes had fallen apart, or uphill because the single gear made it impossible to ride!

Ted saw a great opportunity. “So many bikes collect dust in North American garages,” he says, “and they’re so desperately needed in Africa. Once refurbished, they’re of much better quality than those typically available there.”

Africycle was born in 2004 as Ted and his friends collected 180 used bicycles, restored them to top condition, and packed them in a container. Ted and three friends flew to Malawi to meet the shipment and distribute the donated bikes to pastors, orphans, and trades people.

They offered workshops on repairing and maintaining them. When an Africycle team returned in 2006, they found pastors traveling greater distances and reaching more people.

Africycle sent more bicycles to Malawi last year and set up a sale and repair shop. The small fee for the bikes pays locals to work in the shop and funds a school for orphans and disabled kids.

—Sandra Reimer in FaithToday

My Response: What interest of mine might God harness to advance His kingdom?

Adapted from FaithToday (1-2/07)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #13

Money is a means to the greater end of glorifying God

as we demonstrate practical Christianity in our lives.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

 

Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities.

Early one chilly morning, an American soldier was making his way back to his barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move.

The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window, he could see the mouth-watering morsels as they were being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them ever so carefully into the glass-enclosed case.

The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.

“Son, would you like some of those?”

The boy was startled. “Well, yes, I would.”

The American stepped inside and bought a dozen doughnuts, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag, and said simply, “Here you are.”

As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly, “Mister, are you God?”

There’s an old saying that says, “Money talks.” It does, you know. It speaks volumes about our priorities, about the things we think are most important, about our values. Money never speaks more clearly than when we use it to minister to someone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When that happens, money sends forth a radiant, powerful message about the love of Christ as we demonstrate our Christian faith in action.

The admonition from God’s Word is clear: Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of God. As you consider what God would have you give to your Church, and as you consider the commitments about money and giving you have made to Him, are you doing what you are doing for His glory?

Remember the young boy’s question of a man who befriended him: “Mister, are you God?” It’s just possible, you know, that someone may experience your faith in action by how you use your money today and ask the very same question about you.

Missions: From Start to Finish – An Accountant Finisher

Who Said It…Jim Reapsome

Jim Reapsome, at 77, has just completed a stint as interim pastor of Western Springs, IL Baptist Church.

That follows retiring from a journalism career: public relations director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, editor of The Sunday School Times and Evangelical Missions Quarterly, and managing editor of Christianity Today. And oh yes, he’s pastored a Pennsylvania congregation.

Jim also gardens, golfs, and roots for the Phillies.

What He Said…An Accountant Finisher

Howard and Marilyn Schmidt represent a host of Christians (called “finishers” in missions lingo) who’ve chosen missionary work as their second career. In 1966, Howard took a year of leave from his managerial job at U.S. Steel, and went to Nigeria with their three children. There he served as a field auditor for Charlotte, NC-based SIM International, traveling among SIM’s bases of operations reviewing their financial books.

This short-term experience was so successful that it proved to be a long-term turning point for this family. Howard stayed with U.S. Steel long enough to qualify for a minimum pension (about the same as SIM’s allowance for a missionary couple). By this time their children had finished their college educations, and the Schmidts were free to rejoin SIM in 1981, bringing their own support.

The Schmidts 21-year second career took them all over the world for SIM. He installed financial systems and trained missionaries in a number of countries.

Adapted from World Pulse (8/6/04)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.