Why do we go??

We are preparing to go back to the DR on October 20. Here is my journal from our last trip. Sorry for the length but I felt led to share.

Dominican Field Report…03/25- 03/31, 2017

This was a small group but packed with people that were mission-minded. Phil Bennett was the team leader. It’s hard to hide his heart for God. He is always searching for the right way to speak the truth in love. His wife Kim accompanies us also. She has a boisterous personality and makes friends instantly with anyone she meets. Tori is their daughter and it is her first trip. She seems to be up to the task at hand. Todd Parker is here again, and it is also his third trip. You can see and feel the love he has for this place. Andrew Mantha is here for the third time, as well as myself. He is a young man around twenty years old. We have become good friends, and have developed this Paul/Timothy sort of relationship. He has a heart for missions. I can definitely see him on the mission field one day. Rounding out the group is Tim Claprood. It is his first trip. I don’t know much about him but he is willing to serve and that’s all we can ask of anyone.

While we are partnered with a few churches in the D.R., mainly Pastor Braulio’s, Pastor Samuel’s and Pastor Israel’s, our contact and go to person here is a lady named Milca. She choreograph’s every place we will go. Every move we make this week will be set in motion by her management and Gods direction.

DAY 1
We arrive on Saturday to Milca and her friend Fanny waiting for us at the airport. We collect our things and hop onto the bus. About an hour away we get to our room and get settled in. We take a swim and then go to dinner. We are all tired from the day of travel.

Day 2

Sunday was filled with worship. First we traveled to pastor Braulio’s church. It is a very large church in the center of Santo Domingo. We spent two hours there listening to singing and then get a short message by the grandson of Braulio. Braulio is usually here but on this trip he happens to be in Israel. Afterwards we ate lunch that they provided. Every meal here is given with love and care. Home-cooked and served by our gracious hosts.

In the afternoon we rested for awhile before going to pastor Samuel’s church in the evening. He always accompanies us in the field so we like to attend his service and worship with him. They also fix a meal for us that is basically like a Sunday dinner at grandmas house.

Day 3

Monday is when the real work begins. We start the day at 7 am with breakfast and leave the hotel at 8. Today our team leader, Phil falls ill with a stomach bug. It’s his fifth mission here, and this would be his first “sick day”. It happens and there is nothing you can do about it. It requires that you stay back in order not to hinder the mission. On the way we always stop at Braulio’s church as a rally point. Phil asks me to come up with a small devotional so I read from 1 Corinthians 3:5-7.

My point was simple. We are the workers but it is God that gives the increase. He is the one that does the real work in the hearts and the lives of the people we talk to. This is a mission where some plant, some water, but God gives the increase. Give Him the glory always.

Around 9 we take off to the field and the medical mission. It’s about a 30-45 minute bus ride into the other side of the city. This mission is basically in a downtown area that is densely populated. Setting up we begin with spiritual stations where we evangelize and are the first contact for the people. After that they go to “triage” where their physical needs are assessed and then they wait to see the doctor. After the doctor the last stage would be the pharmacy where we dispense the meds we have brought with us. At all stations is usually a translator. They are invaluable to us as they are our connection to the people. Mostly they are students at the local college who have a heart for missions.

With Phil down, Todd steps into the leadership position. So he has to wander and fill in as needed. Tim gets assigned to work with me to begin. He has no experience in evangelism, so it seemed like a good idea to partner up so he could see how it goes. After about an hour he went and began working at his own station. The work load was very heavy.

In total we saw at least fifteen at my station today. My translators name was Roudy. He was a courteous young gentlemen. You could tell he was “thinker” type and we got along well. There were a few that “said” they were Christian, but I had my doubts. We shared the gospel and prayed with them anyways. There was one whom was a verified Christian. She wore it well… Proclaiming confidence in the fact that Jesus was in her heart and was the source of her salvation. There were three “memorable” meetings for me today. The first was a 65 year old man that thought he had “missed his chance” with the gospel. We assured him that in Gods eyes it was never too late. A man called at the eleventh hour got to see the same heaven as the one who accepted Christ earlier in life.

The next was an older lady, I can’t remember her name. As we spoke you could see the hurt and the pain in her eyes. Her soul was hurting and you could just feel it as we talked and prayed. You could see the weight being lifted off her heart as she prayed and accepted Christ.

And then there was Beatrice. She was 23 and it was immediately noticeable that God was knocking on her heart. Her eyes were like sieves and the tears no matter how hard she tried could not be held back. My translator and I both were moved to tears by the end of our presentation. It was no doubt when I got to the end and asked did she want to receive Christ. The biggest smile then slipped across her face and broke through the tears. It is all so humbling when you see someone reach out to God in that intimate moment.

It never gets old.

In the afternoon the medical station runs its course and we go nearby to pastor Israel’s church to eat lunch. It is a small church but very quaint and nice. They also treat us very well. We rest and then come back around four to minister to the children of the neighborhood and to have our first of three discipleship classes. Today Todd Parker leads and when we begin only about 3 are there but then it grows to about 10-12 by the time it is over. He does a good job.

After that we begin to walk the neighborhood and invite people to the movie that starts at @6. After a few mission trips here I’m beginning to learn that Dominican time is always relative, lol.

After the first day in the field we were exhausted. As always we came back to Pastor Braulios church for dinner where we are well fed. Every meal is home cooked to perfection. From there a short bus ride back to the hotel where we go to the room and head straight to bed.

Day 4

Tuesday morning I get up about five and read my bible. Today I will be teaching lesson two at the discipleship and need to study John 4. I will be teaching about the woman at the well and her new found faith. Breakfast at seven and then out the door at eight. We arrive and I am blessed with the assignment of being in a spiritual station again. Today I work with Nathaly. She’s a sweet college student with a nice temperament and the ability to “fix” a lot of what I’m saying. The team of translators are the backbone of the trip. Without them we are useless, and they are imperative to the mission.

At the beginning it’s always hard till you find your rhythm. Then you sort of figure out what “works” with each translator. The right way to say things so that the idea you are presenting to them never gets lost. Things such as my testimony and things of that nature may come out wrong if not spoken carefully. Of course the gospel is the gospel and the translators know it well. But it is best to start each session with small talk and to generally get to know the people. They are very perceptive and can detect when you are just putting a “sales pitch” on them. You must find a way to connect and care about each of them as they come through. One way or another you have to show them the love of Christ. Even though by the end of the morning you will probably forget there names. I always remember the faces.

I never forget them.

Today was a little tougher. I believe I saw between 12-15. I lost count. I don’t like to keep up with numbers here too much. Yes it is nice to know that you are winning souls to Christ but I don’t want it to become some sort of vain competition where all I focus on are numbers. A few were Christians already. We had two that just said plain no. Amazingly enough I had a 94 year old woman come through my station today. She was with her 67 year old daughter. Honestly I could see the daughter heart melting as I told her about Jesus. How much He loved us no matter what. But I didn’t think her mom was paying too much attention. But I kept going anyways. By the end of my presentation she had begin to sit up in her chair. When I ask did she want to accept Christ she said… Yes!! Yes!! It was an amazing moment.

But today’s moment for me was the last guy. His name was Henri’. When he walked around the corner honestly I almost got up. I hadn’t moved out of my chair in over three or four hours. I was tired. I was worn out. Honestly it felt like I had nothing more to give. And he looked so intimidating. Looking at him I could see the hurt and the anger in his eyes. He had this pain about him. And it rested in the body of a 32 year old man that was 6’3 250 lbs of rock and muscle. Arms tatted from years of life on the street.

I wasn’t judging him, but his physical presence was very overwhelming.

But God told me… look at his eyes and nothing else. In there I could see so much pain. So much anger. So much heartbreak. So i sat back down.

We asked him why he was there and he said he had never been to a doctor and wanted to get his blood pressure checked. Then we asked if we could talk to him about God. Sometime I ask the people about God to see what they know about Jesus and what direction I should head into. As we talked I began to share with him my story. About being lost most of my life and looking for answers and things to fill my heart in all the wrong places.

It was then that he asked… but why would a good God let bad things happen to good people?? His father had passed away last year. I knew that this was a divine meeting arranged in heaven.

I told him about the story of my dad. How he was the best guy I knew and that he had went to the doctor and they had given him 3 months to live. How in my mind back then that it seemed so hard to swallow.

But that when I got saved and accepted Christ that God slowly began to give me understanding about how our time is limited. And no matter how much time God gives us here it is still short in light of eternity. Also I shared with him even though I miss my dad I will see him again in heaven one day.

There are some days in life that seem meaningless. There are days when I don’t know exactly where I’m supposed to be. On this day and at this time there was no doubt whatsoever that I was right where God wanted me to be. I’m so thankful I didn’t shy away from the opportunity to talk to this young man.

Further and further along I could see God breaking him down. Just working on him and his heart getting ready for that moment in eternity we must all make a choice.

Honestly when I looked across and asked… will you accept Christ today?? I wasn’t for sure if he would give in. Yes he was visually shaken but that doesn’t mean they will accept. I know the spiritual battle that he was going through… as your flesh screams to run while your heart cries out to Jesus.

A broken smile came across his face as he said… yes I will accept Christ today. So we prayed an then he prayed and confessed with his mouth and asked Jesus to come into his heart. To save him from his sin.

It was an awesome experience. One that I will never forget.

After that we went to lunch again at Israel’s church. It was good and quick and we got to rest for awhile. The translators always come up with games and fun things to do. They laugh and enjoy themselves and are always singing and having fun.

At four we go back and I teach the lesson 2 of the discipleship. It goes well.

By this time it’s time to get back on the bus and head back to Braulio’s for dinner. Tonight there is more traffic and it takes us about an hour and a half to get back. Once again it’s great food. We enjoy and laugh and eat and just hang for a while. Then head back to the room. Todd comes over and we spend the next few hours talking and cutting up.

Day 5

Wed morning comes quick. Up at six, read my bible a little. Then off to breakfast. Before we know it we are back in the field again. Today I start in the spiritual station, and Marcelle is my translator. She is sweet, and I take a moment to take her through “my style” . It occurred to me it would be a good idea to let her know what I would expect from her before we began.

Also I like to reassure each translator that “my words” or “her words” are really not that important as much as the faith that we speak with them. I tell her if God moves… you go. Talk all you need or lead a prayer. Never wait on me if you feel God guiding you in another direction.

We only saw a few but the one this morning that I remember was Julian. He was 27 years old and seemed like he wasn’t listening. But the more we talked the more I could see God and the Holy Spirit working on the inside. Working on his heart. Some people might think they have a “poker face”… but the eyes never lie. Whoever came up with the saying, the eyes are the windows of the soul were absolutely correct. He accepted Christ that day.

After a few more people, Andrew and I switched roles and I moved to the pharmacy. I was working with a Dominican lady name “Fanny” I didn’t have a translator so it was a little difficult. We tried to make small talk in between people but the few words I know in Spanish only take me so far. From her demeanor and her actions you can tell Fanny is a nurturing soul. She’s dispenses the medicine with a smile and a warm heart. It doesn’t take long to realize I’m pretty useless back here today. But it’s ok. It’s been a rather eventful week.

Soon it was lunch time. Once again we headed to pastor Israel’s church. Today we had a long lunch break. Maybe it just felt that way because it was nearing the end of the work week. One more discipleship lesson and meeting with the kids and we were pretty much done.

Today I challenged Sammie, pastor Samuel’s son to a arm wrestling match. Just a friendly competition. We went at it awhile before we called it a draw. It was fun. I’m not sure his age…17-18? But it seems like he grows about a foot each trip. I’m thinking he’s about 6’3 this time! He has also been helping to translate. His English is getting pretty good.

As lunch is going on I’m pretty sure Israel is evangelizing to a kid that has came in off the street, or praying for him, or something. He’s usually doing something of that nature but you don’t notice. He’s not a “look at me, look at me” kind of person. He is very laid back, yet when the work comes in he just steps up and does it.

Before we leave I thank him for allowing us to use his church as our lunch hangout. I ask him for a picture to show him respect for what he’s done for the mission.

Heading back to the site Tory and I lead the children’s activity for the day, as Andrew teaches the final discipleship lesson…. well Tory lead and shared the story of Peter while I handed out beads, lol. But it was good. I liked the way that she asked questions as she went along to the children. It was an easy way to get an idea how much of the material was sinking in.

Soon enough the lessons were over and it was time for the movie to begin. At 6 each night they had a movie about Jesus, and then they would present the gospel after. Because of our distance and the travel we had ahead of us, we would leave as it started and begin the journey back. Each night we would enjoy dinner at the church and then head back to the hotel.

Tonight there was a certain somberness at the dinner. We all realize the work is over. It’s tonight that it hits me how hard this work must be for the translators. So many teams that come and go. Of course you don’t make friends with everyone…but some you do. In the intimate setting of sharing the gospel you become close. They open themselves up to us each time… and then we are gone.

It can’t be easy.

I admire them for their dedication to the cause of Christ. Nicole, Joseph, Ray, Nathaly, Star, Tana, Elias, the list of people I have worked with is many. I smile when I think of them. I know there are too many to list here. I love them all. They are truly my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Day 6

Thursday is more a less a “free day” we go to old town and hangout. Santo Domingo is a very interesting place to visit. So many sites to see we choose a few. Also we do some shopping. We eat lunch at a local restaurant and I get the fish. It is awesome. You can’t hide the taste of freshness!

Leaving we head back to the room. We spend a few hours hanging out before suiting up for the last hoorah. One final dinner together as a team. Of course the meal is great as always. Milca always finds somebody to sing happy birthday to, and have a cake.. lol. After that we share a few testimonies about what God has done this week through, and for us.

Roudy stands and gives his testimony and he begins to talk about Beatrice. As soon as he begins I can feel the emotions welling up inside. His testimony was confirmation for me of just how real this moment was in her life. He had been in contact with her and she was telling him in the days since we had met how much God was already beginning to change her. It was amazing to hear about it from another angle. From how he saw it. It made it come alive that much more for me.

Day 7

Today is another travel day… as i sit at the airport and wait on the plane I begin to reconcile all the things I have been a part of this week. My natural mind begins to wonder about all the ones that have accepted Christ. We pointed them in the direction of the church we were planting as well as Pastor Israel’s.

I worry about them.

But it is then that I felt the Holy Spirit whisper softly in my ear… The ones that truly accept belong to me. I will lead, guide, and direct them to where they need to go. You did what I asked you to do on this mission… you shared the love and hope of Jesus Christ.

Now leave the rest up to me..

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The Law Of The Harvest…

Last Monday I was asked to step into the manager’s office at Pugmire Ford. It was my first week and I had sold three cars. It seemed like things were going pretty well. But by the look on the his face I knew something was up. He said, we have to let you go man, corporate policy. You didn’t pass the background check. They found some things on your driving record from way back that they can’t get over.

It is Ford’s policy.

I sat in stunned silence as my friend finished. I knew he had put in a good word for me. I know he did his best to get around it. There were no hard feelings as I gathered my stuff and exited the building. Basically I was just in shock.

A deep sense of sadness began to wash over me. Regret and shame began their invasion on the peace my soul. They asked for a seven year driving report. I was happy to supply it considering it was one page with basically my name on it. Insurance on the car I own is $70 a month for full coverage. Why would I think it would be a problem on theirs?? Why would I go back over 10 years to dredge up things I thought no longer applied?

But, here I am. The wave of yesteryear has washed over me. The law of the harvest has came into effect. I have reaped what I have sown and it is painful. The feeling of letting down every one around me is overwhelming. That I have to write or talk about this is even more so. For two weeks I have been getting calls and texts about coming to see me and buying a car.

But really this post is not about all that.

It is about another law. A greater law found in moments like these. Where life pushes you into the boundaries of the flesh and the spirit and they begin to collide. Something greater that supersedes the law of the harvest.

The law of grace and mercy.

It is the law in my heart that says, I know the man that you were yesterday, I know the man you are today, and I know the man you will be tomorrow. I knew every mistake you would ever make… and I still died for you. I love you.

Not that you could go on sinning.
Not that these moments in your life wouldn’t exist.
They have to because you have earned them.

The law of the harvest is real. You do reap what you sow according to how God sees fit. A past is a heavy burden to carry at times, but not impossible. I will never be totally free of it till I step onto the other side.

But it is certainly nothing when compared to the weight of the sin that Jesus carried on my behalf. On behalf of us all.

It’s funny I don’t feel like the person that they read about in their reports. I know I have weaknesses and faults and God only knows how many times I have failed Him in the past eight years.

But He is pushing me to become something more through Him. And I believe the key to becoming the man He needs me to be is found in moments like these.

Moments where the flesh and the spirit clash. Moments where it seems hopeless and you feel lost. Moments where the flesh yearns for ways to console itself above all else.

But today I choose the spirit. I choose to walk in the truth and light instead of the lie that the devil whispers in my ear.

Yes I know who I used to be.
But now I know who I am.

I have to rest in that and let God take care of it from here.

2 Corinthians 12:9

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I am Adopted…

And if you are a Christian, you are adopted too. You are adopted into the brotherhood of Christ.

(Romans 8:15-16

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: )

So when you made the decision to follow Him… all else becomes a secondary characteristic.

Yes we have cultural differences, and we do worship differently. But those things should not be our bond.

What unites us is our faith in one king.

What should define us… is our love for Jesus Christ. A brotherhood that cannot be broken. Of course it can be strained at times. We are all human and face growing pains. But our bond is one that supersedes color, or should. When you choose Jesus you give up the right to say “white” pride. Or black “pride”.

There is only red pride.

Because we have been washed in the power of the blood. Jesus should become more important than skin tones. He didn’t come and die and wash your sin away to make you feel good about being white or black or red or yellow or anything in between.

The Bible tells us time and time again. There is no good thing in this flesh… so why on earth should we have pride in anything that comes with it??

(Acts 10:34-35

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. )

So if I have no pride in this flesh then obviously I have no “right” to treat anyone any certain way, except how Jesus would tell me to.

Are we perfect.. of course not! I’m sure we have all done things in ignorance in the past. The point is now… today. We have the power of the Holy Spirit within us to change the world.

We are fighting a war that simply cannot be won with hate. It is only the love of Christ that can change the hearts of men…

I know. Because He changed mine.

Matthew 22:36-39

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

1 Corinthians 1:10

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Psalm 133:1

1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

The New Religion…

Atheism is on the rise. For millenia men have debated on who God was. On His attributes. But times they are a changing. What once was an obvious assumption… life cannot come from nothingness, has been challenged by the elite minded.

Today a college professor is getting ready for class with the agenda of dismantling your child’s faith. They are preparing themselves to challenge all things theism and bully them into believing how silly it is for them to believe in God. They can’t wait to hit them with a zinger that will try and rock the foundations of their faith.

I mean all the smart people are atheists right??

For a large part of my life I would say my beliefs were agnostic. I know the “arguments” well. Even now I don’t suppose to have all the answers.

But I have seen one thing for certain. There are blind followers on both sides. People who follow simply because they think it is what they are supposed to do.

Dear Christian it is time. It is time to get the head and the heart on the same page. Do you know why it is that you belive what you believe?? Have you even read this book that you put your faith in? Do you actually sit down and study about things that have eternal impact?

There is a fine line between debate, and being argumentative, and simply standing up for the truth. I get that. It will be hard to manage the course. It will be hard to use the wisdom of God in your life without getting puffed up about it. It has happened to me. God has dealt with it.

But we have to engage where God leads us. We have to be open to those opportunities.

The war is on. They are trying to disassemble our faith with their reason and we must stand up to them. Why?? Because the sheep are watching. I have been in discussions where maybe not the person I was talking to but someone else would message me and ask me to share my testimony. To share my faith with them.

In eight years as a Christian I have seen what the world, and satan wants to do. He wants to shut me up at all costs. He wants to get me involved in secret sins to neutralize my witness. He wants me to get lost in meaningless conversations, instead of engaging in places where Christ leads.

I have failed so much in these last few years… but I will not shut up. I will not give up on telling the world about Jesus any way possible. Every day I will tell them about your goodness. I will tell them about your grace and mercy of my sinful condition.

Dear Christian we are in a war that means to only silence us. Prepare yourself and your loved ones for the battle ahead. As the knowledge of the world grows, our knowledge of the WORD should grow right alongside of it.

It is our only defense.

Ecclesiastes 7:12

12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

2 Timothy 2:24-26

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Finding Love…

From a philosophical standpoint… if there was 100% certain evidence that God was there according to science. Then what would be the point of the game of life??

True love is a choice. When you choose to love someone it is the greatest gift they can receive. It is the kind of love our creator seeks from us.

If God was based only on certain evidence that we “see”…we would be bound by the “evidence” to “love” our creator by reason alone. It would hardly be a choice.

God seeks those who choose to love Him based on faith.

#apologetics #christian #faithoverreason

Where is your faith rooted…

I was talking with a guy the other day when out of the blue he blatantly informed me that the Bible was a sham. He then went on to tell me about how a lot of different things had happened through history. He even went back as far back as the third century and then this and that…it all sounded very logical. He made it all sound so right.

I said well that’s nice. So where did you get all this information?? He said oh I read it in a book. It’s groundbreaking really… And then he proceeded to give me the author and title.

I said, oh so you want to discredit my book with your book?

He said huh???

I said well that’s what your doing. You have put your faith in a book and I have put my faith in one. And not only that…but I have put my faith in the author of it. My author is God. Yours is a man.

We all gather our faith from somewhere. We all put our trust in something. But in the end there is only one credible source.

What is your faith in today??

A small miracle…

So yesterday while my wife was shopping Karis dropped her “blanky”. This satin blanket has been through makenna and now Karis over the last few years. The emotions and experiences attached to that blanket were too numerous to name. Although it is just a material object, it holds great sentimental value to us. Our greatest fear because it was so ragged, would be that if anyone found it they would simply, throw it away.

Summer had traced her steps and came to the realization that it had to have been dropped in Target. They were shopping to buy the kids a toy with their Christmas money around 4. So we called the store and there was no sign of it.

When I got home I was informed of everything that had happened. We ate dinner and I guess I thought… well maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Karis will be 3 in April and it’s probably time to ween her off of it anyway.

Well around eight that tune had changed. Karis was heartbroken!! I thought well if I am going to have to listen to her cry all night the least I could do would be to go back down there and take a look.

So off I went. When I got there I looked through every buggy in the parking lot. Then I walked inside and talked to customer service. No luck. So I text summer and asked her to which department’s had she been in.

Electronics, toys, shoes, and make-up. Up and down the aisles of those departments I roamed for the next 30 minutes. Back and forth and up and down… no dice.

I was about ready to give up when I thought… you know I have not prayed about this. So I stopped, closed my eyes right there in the store and said a little prayer.

“Father… I know it is a small thing, I know it is not a big deal deal in the scheme of life… but I am asking you for your help in finding this blanket. And I am asking for your help in Jesus name, amen. “

I had pretty much made my rounds again and I was thinking about going back to customer service and offering a reward. Maybe it would turn up in the next few days…But as I was walking past the card section I saw the return cart for the kids stuff. Something told me to turn and go that way. I walked down that aisle to the lady and looked at her stuff.. nope she hadn’t seen it, either. By now it was near closing time and most of the associates were working putting stuff back on the shelfs.

But the shoe department was right there and I thought why not… and would you believe it as I walked around the corner, there it was!!!

Almost five hours later. Sitting on the ground in plain view!!

I will not lie and say I didn’t get all choked up.

Sometimes we are so worried about the big things in life we forget that our father in heaven cares about and loves us in all things. He doesn’t mind us asking for help, even with the small stuff!!

One Bible, coming right up…

My first trip to the Dominican was pretty awesome. So many stories to tell. I have shared a few but the other day another one came to mind.

On the plane ride there I sat beside my buddy Chris McDuffie. We were just making small talk and I was thinking out loud…man I wish I would have brought one of those Spanish to English bibles, it would have been very useful!!

Well I didn’t think anymore about it. The conversation moved on and so did we.

Over the next few days we were split into 2 teams with the other church on the trip. They were from Decatur baptist church in Alabama. We were all mixed up and Chris was on the other team. As we loaded up the shuttle bus I moved towards the back. Our “team” was headed out into the field! The ride lasted about 30 minutes and we were all making small talk and excited about the trip.

Right before we got to where we were going, Paula Carver Batchelor spoke up on the bus and said hey…I brought this Spanish/English bible if anyone thinks they need it!!

Instantly I recalled that conversation Chris and I had. I felt like God was smiling at me. Like He was saying…I don’t want any hindrances on this trip. You said you needed it, so here you go!

But the story doesn’t end there. I carried it all day with me and used it frequently. At the end of that day we were scheduled to begin discipleship classes with ones who wanted to learn more.

Our team leader, had became violently ill during the day. It really is a hit or miss thing over there. People just get sick. The food and water has different microbes than here and it’s not good or bad it’s just the way it is.

So they said hey Rob you want to teach this discipleship thing?? I was so far out of my league that I said sure… I mean when you are out on a limb of faith what’s a little more pressure??

But God knows. He knows what we can handle. So we load up and head back out. I get to the church planters house and 1 person shows up, besides the planters, for the class. It was the first day of discipleship. Milca, the lady who coordinated everything on our trip, looked up at me and said….you want to just cancel?? I said let’s give it a minute. I was already nervous anyway so I said a little prayer. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me…

Telling me…

Maybe this one is all I can trust you with today? But is the one not worth it? How would you feel if you were that one eager to learn more and they just canceled??

So I said lets do it. And the class went smoothly. My young brother Elias interpreted and all went well. A nice young lady listened intently. She took notes and followed along. She was a good student. As we finished up we prayed and began to start getting ready for the neighborhood movie.

I took two steps down off the porch and I don’t think I’ve ever felt God move me physically like that. He stopped me cold in my tracks. The Holy Spirit nudged me…Ask her does she have a Bible?? So I walked back up and asked her. She said no I do not. I opened up my backpack and handed her Paula’s bible. By the look on her face I could tell the impact the gift had made. Tears flowed as she insisted that I sign it. It was a truly humbling experience.

I simply wrote…to my number one student. Little did she know that literally…she was my number one student.

On the way back to the hotel I told Paula what had happened. In a way I was fearful because we had just met and it was “her” bible that I had given away. There was this moment where I put it out there and I didn’t know what her response would be….and then this big huge smile came across her face and I knew that I had done the right thing.

What an amazing order of events God had orchestrated to deliver a Bible into the hands of this new believer!!

Don’t Take My Word For It, Take God’s…

It has been seven years since I first heard those words. I remember coming in to church quietly and sitting on the back row. Bruised, battered and downtrodden. Taking my place yet ready to exit if the preacher said anything offensive. But on that day Pastor Joe Mckaig used these words to change my life.

“Don’t take my word for it, take God’s!”

I am grateful today that God gave him that message.

In one sentence He took the focus off of the messenger and onto the message. It changed my perspective forever. My whole life I had watched as fallen men had tried to tell me about God, but I would secretly dismantle them in my mind.

When you focus on the man instead of the message it is only a matter of time before it will leave you empty.

Do I believe pastors are inspired and called by God to be more… Yes! Please let us all pray for them because of the weight and burden they carry because of this calling. But they are still just men. They will have highs and lows. And your faith will rise and fall with them if that is your only focus.

As for me I am just a sinner that has been saved by grace through faith. I have learned a lot through a great number of mistakes in my life. Most are things I am not proud of. I write and share but my words are never good enough. If you only focus on me you will be left empty.

But I do have a mission and a purpose. That purpose is to point you towards Jesus. The reality is I am just like a guy on the side of the road with a spinning sign. Pointing you in the direction, but it’s not about me. It is about what I am pointing you to.

Read my message. Weigh it. But don’t focus on me too much. It will leave you disappointed.

And please if you are out there and you read my posts, do me one favor.

Don’t take my word for it, take God’s.

Open your Bible. Find it for yourself.

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