Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: I feel so ineffective, all I can do is pray!

I was driving home from my doctor's office this morning. It was so clear blue sky, with fresh snow down to the Hood Canal on our Olympic mountains. I had to drive to the water and look West for a few minutes.

I was praying after talking to my doctor. I have something medical that is very painful and inconvenient and there is not much that he can do to help. I can tell some days as we talk that he is a bit frustrated. Today I said, "don't worry about it Doc, we'll just look at the whole picture and you do your internist thing. This stroke and burning thing we'll just keep an eye on and not worry about 'fixing' anymore."

I was understanding his frustration because I am a trained and experienced minister and missionary who feels so incapable in doing much about the big problem we face: preaching the Gospel amongst the 100's of millions who have not yet heard. My physical condition makes 'going' much more difficult. I ministered in 27 countries during my time overseas. But I dreamed of visiting and preaching in 100 countries before I was 'done.

So, a couple of days ago (during Christmas) I was thanking God my Father for all He has done for me. But I was actually crying about things a bit. Because there is not much I can do in response to all He has done for me and my family. As a young missionary I generally had five or six projects going, in five or six countries, all the time ever! I hoped to see something big happen for Jesus. Now, my work is a lot of reading and a little bit of writing.

As I complained I had a thought that was pretty funny to me. I'm pretty sure he got the humor too, because I feel like I've learned something through all this. I thought to myself, "In 2014 I feel so ineffective, all I can do anymore is pray!" No more orphanages or drug treatment centers going up. No more training events for pastors from all over one country or another.

What's funny to me is that I remember discipling young followers of Christ and emphasizing as strongly as I was able that prayer, talking to Our Father, was probably the single most important part of our faith, our walk, and certainly our ministry. Hearing Him was the hard part. But hearing started with pouring out our hearts. Just look at how Jesus did it!

Building the Kingdom soul by soul always begins with someone praying hard for that soul. I was so busy at times, flying around and helping to build and administrate missionary endeavors, that I was too busy to pray like I always wanted to. I firmly believe that presenting every aspect of every ministry that concerned us, to God, is the secret to any ministries effectiveness. I always prayed at least one hour before I preached. Simple.

When I was a pastor in my home town I found time, 6 to 9 am. But when we saw exciting results (souls without hope getting saved) I felt and experienced the biggest slap down I've ever known: two more strokes (after 2 overseas) and  brain surgery which left me useless. No longer mobile. No longer raising thousands of dollars. No longer preaching to people everywhere we could.

All I can do now is pray! Yet perhaps that is the high point and not the low point of my life of service. I'm going to talk to my Father about that.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Family and Holidays - A Big Priority

Merry Christmas!

As I looked over plans for next year I realized that, just as I have been slow trying to 'keep up' with 'ministry' over the past few years, I am still slow in keeping up with myself. I can't do it like I used to. I have to ask God for strength every day, just to get up and (very painfully) get moving.

Yes, for 30 years I have been a recognized minister. And I have always had high hopes, a born optimist. As my first term of ministry on the mission field came to a conclusion in 1998 I was so stoked! I had five job titles because I had five very exciting areas of ministry. Our ministry stretched to 21 countries in Asia Pacific.

But this year we had to focus on a re-start from last year, because it is a battle to try and be on the front lines of God's Kingdom. Think about it. What we want I think, more than anything, is to see powerful prayer focused on large groups of Unreached folks. That is what Satan hates more than just about anything.

So, I looked at the last time I sent out a little Twitter note, November 19th! I have been fighting the pain, family challenges, fundraising, my disability and what that means, and now it is almost Christmas! Wow! I used to be embarrassed when I couldn't keep up with plans. Now I am simply trying to keep some hope.

So, if you read this note please bear with us. I am only allowed to work about 3 hours a day, 3 days a week. Beyond that though I must realize that many days I am not even able to do that much, because like it or not I am not as able as I once was. So God is reminding me: You want to be a man of prayer? I have given you the time and the freedom to pray more than ever before! Don't be discouraged.

I still hope to drop our friends who have encouraged us so much a little note each week. And a few little 'tweets' to pass along things we find interesting each day if possible. I will not give up. Because Jesus never gave up.

Merry Christmas to all (someday)!