Reminder: This World Is Not My Home

But even if my life is to be poured out like a drink offering to complete the sacrifice of your faithful service (that is, if I am to die for you), I will rejoice, and I want to share my joy with all of you. Philippians 2:17 NLT

Would you be willing to die for another person’s spiritual growth? I’m not sure I’m with Paul on this one yet, because as much as I like to see people growing spiritually, I don’t know if sacrificing my life for their growth is yet an option.

Paul, though, was seeing life through an eternal perspective. Remember he said earlier in the same letter, “for me to live is Christ and to die is great gain.” He recognized that the purpose of his life was to encourage others in Christ.

I’m reminded of an old song. Perhaps you’ve heard it. I don’t think it has a copyright, so here goes:

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures and my hopes are all beyond the blue
Where many friends and kindred have gone on before
And I cant feel at home in this world anymore

Over in glory land there is no dying there
The saints are shouting victory there’s singing everywhere
I hear the voice of them that I have heard before
And I cant feel at home in this world anymore

Oh lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home oh lord what would I do
Angel’s beckon me to heaven’s open door
And I cant feel at home in this world anymore

Heaven’s expecting me that’s one I know
I fixed it up with Jesus a long time ago
He will take me through though I am weak and poor
And I cant feel at home in this world anymore

Do you need to be reminded that this world is NOT your permanent home?

What’s one thing dragging you down for which I (and my readers) can pray for you?

Day 2 of Compassion Ecuador Trip

Day 2 of visiting Compassion Projects in Ecuador was my favorite so far, and it happened because of one little boy. He’s one of the boys in this picture. When I went to take his picture he asked if his “best friends” could be in the picture too. I loved that!

Anyway, this little boy was asked what he liked best about Compassion International sponsorship program and he said, “God blessed me with the opportunity to meet my sponsors.” Wow! That’s the part about Compassion I like the best! It’s an open book. Today I saw the records…I saw the documents…I saw the paperworks side…but more than that…I saw the kids who many people sponsor. If you sponsor a child with Compassion International, you can make a visit to that child…and they feel “blessed by God” when you do.

By the way, if you do sponsor a child, send them pictures and letters. I did learn that children absolutely love hearing from their sponsors. This boy, for example, knew that his sponsors had two daughters who got married this year. He knew their names. He was celebrating with them! The children who receive letters really do get to know and love their sponsors.

I’m not paid by Compassion or even asked to write this blog post, but let me be honest. If you want to impact children around the world, change lives and communities one child at a time, consider sponsoring a child today. You can do that HERE. It is estimated that every child sponsors has an impact on 30 other people in their family and community. Amazing return for your investment!

Have you sponsored a child through Compassion? Tell me about it.

The Question that Started Compassion International

During the 1950’s, Evangelist Everett Swanson traveled to South Korea to preach the gospel to the troops in the Republic of Korea army. During his visit, he encountered children orphaned by the war hanging out in garbage dumps. They were searching for food, shelter, and hiding from the reality of their existence. Sometimes the garbage trucks would avoid them…sometimes they wouldn’t.  Obviously, it burdened Swanson’s heart, but not knowing how to solve a mammoth problem, he headed home to the United States.

Soon after his return, Rev. Swanson was challenged by a missionary friend with a haunting question.

“What are you going to do about the orphans?”

He couldn’t continue without doing something, and from that burden, Compassion International began.

Today, Compassion International is changing the lives of children around the world. I love that Compassion connects to a local church and does ministry through that church. Compassion focuses on four aspects of the child’s life; social, physical, emotional, and spiritual. It is estimated that every child helped impacts 30 other people around the child.

Amazing what a small monthly amount can do!


Consider sponsoring a child today by going HERE.

BTW, what burden has God placed on your heart? What are YOU going to do about it?

In case you missed it, I’m in Ecuador this week with a group of pastors on behalf of Compassion International. Read more about it HERE.

A Much Needed Encouragement for the Pastor

It’s Monday morning…

I have spoken with many pastors who share a common struggle with each other. If it was a good Sunday…one where God’s Spirit was at work…during the 24-hour period from Sunday noon and Monday noon…they face doubt and frustration.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I knew I was speaking truth. I knew God was working, but I was teaching on God’s purposes for marriage to many who are undergoing tough times in their own marriages. It was difficult and I felt as though I was adding insult to injury to many. I left feeling down and I allowed the enemy to discourage me.

I am blessed to have several in our church sensitive to this issue…or sensitive to God’s Spirit in their own life. Yesterday afternoon I received this email from someone in our church:

Ron,

I cannot imagine how tough it had to be to deliver today’s (that desperately needed to be done) message. Thank you for being God’s “Good and Faithful Servant”. I feel as though you will (or may have already been) challenged and attacked for speaking the Truth!

Just want to remind you that the people that might not have liked it, needed to hear it the most! You know how the Devil gets when you hit a nerve. You get my vote for delivering a very difficult message that needed to be delivered.

Love you Brother!
Jay

I’m not too proud to say I needed this email. The stress of ministry is huge at times and I’m thankful for those who serve the body by building up others.

I received my encouragement this week, so I’m good.

Do you need to encourage your pastor this morning?

Scripture Memorization, Week 10

Here is this week’s memory verse:

I wonder if we thought about this verse this week, instead about what we do or don’t do as believers, if we’d feel better about our walk with Christ and more willing to follow Him wherever He leads. I have a feeling it would free us from some legalism and help us live by grace.

What do you think?

Your Choice: An Open Rebuke or a Hidden Love

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Proverbs 27:5

I was talking to one friend recently who made a very pointed criticism of another mutual friend. It was obvious he has a sincere concern about our other friend, but instead of addressing it with him, he decided to mention it to me. Honestly I wondered how many other “friends” with whom he has had this same conversation. I simply told him I thought he should speak with our friend directly about his concerns.

This is such a difficult verse for some people…especially people pleasers…maybe even some pastors…because we are afraid to offend people, but the principle is that we must be willing to help those we love, even when it is uncomfortable.

Proverbs are principles. They aren’t promises from God as much as the are pieces of wisdom from God to help us live life better. The are commands as much as they are guidelines. You can live a very principled life and not be guaranteed success, but in the majority of circumstances, these principles work best. In this specific proverb, you are not guaranteed to be received well when you offer “an open rebuke”, but it is “better than hidden love”.  We shouldn’t be constantly looking for flaws in other people and we should look at our own faults first, but when a friend is obviously making bad choices in life that will eventually cause them or others harm, when everyone else is already talking about the issue with everyone except the friend, the loving thing to do is to offer correction.

I believe the principle behind this proverb is simply that if you love someone…truly care for others…then you should be willing to confront the issues you see in their life. Sometimes others can see things in us that we can’t see in ourselves. If a friend or loved one is making bad decisions, as awkward and uncomfortable as it may be, it’s better to bring it to their attention than to ignore it in the name of love. I hear people say, “I don’t want to offend them” or “It’s none of my business”, but the idea here is that if you love someone enough, you’ll be willing to help them realize where they are making mistakes.

Is this tough for you? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment here?

If you are the one who needs rebuking, would you rather hear it from a friend, a stranger, or not at all?

Now the harder question, who in your life needs your “open rebuke” more than they need your “hidden love”?

Help me out with this post by adding your thoughts.

The Healthy Imbalance of Marriage

Is it common in your marriage for one spouse to be strong when the other is weak?

Or is that just in my marriage?

Cheryl and I have noticed that it goes in seasons for us, and sometimes even day-to-day.

When Cheryl is having a bad day…week…month…I seem to be having a better period of time.

Cheryl often appears to be stronger during my weaker moments…

I often appear stronger during her weaker moments…

We have found it to be true emotionally, physically, and sometimes even spiritually.

When she’s weak, I can strengthen her…

When I’m weak, she can strengthen me…

That “imbalance” in our marriage has proven to be quite strengthening for our marriage…

This imbalance actually helps to keep our marriage balanced and strong…

I wonder if God might even be the designer of this imbalance at times…

Have you noticed this healthy “imbalance” in your marriage?

For more of my thoughts on marriage, click HERE.

A Special Message to Stressed Out Church Planters (and others)

Dear church planter (and others)…

In the growth phase, everything is changing, life moves at rocket pace…

Somedays you don’t know whether you are coming or going…

It’s a bit overwhelming, stressful, even a bit scary at times…

I hear this often from new church plants and fast growing churches…

I feel (and identify with) your pain…

I see part of my calling to help church leaders during this time…

I pray you protect your heart and your family…

But…

Let’s hope things never change…

Oh, don’t misunderstand, I hope you get better…

I hope you increase structure as needed…

I hope you can soon afford more staff…

I hope more volunteers are recruited…

I hope more people start financially contributing to the vision…

I hope you gain wisdom from others who have gone before you…

But I hope you never stop feeling somewhat overwhelmed…

I hope that the sense of facing the unknown never completely leaves you…

You see…

If you ever get to the point where you always know what to do next…

You’ve probably reached your threshold for growth…

You’ll no longer need to walk by faith…

You’ll soon become bored, perhaps even complacent…

And, that’s not the dream God called you to…

Growth and change is always uncomfortable, because it’s taking you into the unknown…

Dear church planter (and others), if the stress is from things going right…God is bringing new people…He’s stretching your leadership skills…He’s allowing you to encounter the messiness of extending love and grace to hurting people…He’s accomplishing His will through you…

Praise God…stay on your knees…and rejoice that He is displaying His glory!

Do you need to be reminded to enjoy the journey today?

 

4 Things I like and 4 Things I Don’t like about Facebook

Like many of you, I use my Facebook account every day. There are some things I like and some things I don’t like about this means of social media.

Let me share first what I like:

It’s the easiest and most used way my church connects with me.  I get 3 to 1 the number of emails from Facebook as I get from my church email address from people inside the church.

Facebook makes me appear real, which I am by the way. I probably use Twitter more, but I don’t put everything I Tweet on Facebook. (I know that surprises some…but I really don’t.) I put things that help people connect with me. Sometimes that’s serious, sometimes funny, sometimes even a bit weird, but who you see on Facebook really is who I am.

It makes us seem more of a community. We are a large church. Someone recently called us a “mega church”. I guess technically we are, but our intent is to feel otherwise. Facebook helps us connect throughout the week as a church.

I get to connect with new friends and reconnect with old friends. I have met so many people through Facebook.  I’ve also reconnected with dozens of friends from high school and college. It’s great to see their families and catch up with where life has taken them.

The top news feature is helpful. I really don’t have a ton of time to spend on Facebook.  I’ve tried to automate enough things and use Twitter features where it looks as if I’m online more. Having the top status updates shows me the ones people are talking about most recently and most frequently.

Now, here is what I don’t like:

Having to go to Facebook to reply to emails. I get emails on my phone at my regular email address, but I have to login to Facebook to answer them. This is an extra step that seems unnecessary for me.  I realize Facebook wants me to return frequently in hopes I’ll see an advertiser, but to respond to emails I only want to respond to emails…so that reasoning doesn’t work for me.

Facebook apps are unreliable. I’ve been told Facebook doesn’t even like apps, possibly for the reason I just mentioned…advertising, but I wish they would work on their application functions.  It’s the world in which we live.  My Facebook app crashes often. It doesn’t do certain things. It’s cumbersome. (Does anyone else agree?)

The number of “friends” I can have is limited. I know…I know…there is no way I can “know” all of them, but I am responsive and hate the idea of turning people away. I’m nearing the 5,000 mark soon and that means I have to consider changes. Uggh!

The mindless activity apps…such as Farmville and Give a Hug (or whatever it’s called). I’ve tried to block as many of those type things as I can from receiving them or posting on my wall, but I haven’t figured out how to stop them all together.  I realize some must enjoy them, but not me.

Facebook serves a strategic purpose in my line of work. I’m in the people business and Facebook gives me a great resource to connect with people. I have heard of churches limiting their staffs use of Facebook, Twitter and blogging during the work day, but in my opinion, those three, including Facebook ARE a part of my work day. It’s where a bulk of the people are.

What do you like or not like about Facebook?