Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"A Living Stream in the Desert" by Philip Yancey

Philip Yancey writes an intriguing article in Christianity Today entitled, "A Living Stream in the Desert. How the Christian faith will be a subversive - and liberating - influence in the Middle East."

In it he writes:

"Some in the U.S. judge our nation's success by such measures as gross national product, military might, and global dominance. The Kingdom of God measures such things as care for the downtrodden and love for enemies. In the final reckoning described in Matthew 25, God will judge nations by how they treat the poor, the sick, the hungry, the alien, and the prisoner. How differently would the world view my country if it associated the U.S. with the 'Jesus syndrome' rather than with weapons, wealth, and the Baywatch syndrome?"

It makes me wonder not only about my country, but my life.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Splendor Of Christmas

A Tribute to my friend Dr. Mark Smith

On Monday I attended the funeral of my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Mark Smith. He and his wife Robin planted a church in Warrenton, Virginia exactly five years ago. At the time when Mark was dreaming and thinking about church planting, he was working in a district position working with Assembly of God churches as the senior administrator to Dr. Robert Rhoden. I happened to also be working in the same office as the district church planting director.
Because of my position and relationship with Mark, he came to me early to discuss the possibilities of planting a new church. What I remember is what Mark said over and over: “I’ve got to get in the game. I’ve got to get in the game.” He was like a first string quarterback pacing on the sidelines just waiting for an opportunity to play. He didn’t just feel like he wanted to do it – he was compelled.
Mark always followed the rules, and one of the first steps to church planting was to go through an assessment to determine if you have all of the gifts and abilities necessary to be a church planter. Mark assessed average, which is not real encouraging. Although Mark was extremely gifted, intelligent and diligent, there were some obvious growth areas. Understanding this did not deter him at all. Mark was compelled and determined to overcome them – and he did.
Fortunately, Mark knew how to develop a team, organize them and put them to work. He gathered around him people that made up for his weaknesses. He also had another church that partnered with him, Manassas Assembly of God, which sent core leadership and a group of almost one hundred people. It was obvious that God’s favor was upon him and the new church called The Bridge. The church grew much faster than expected. It was above and beyond what anyone imagined, except Mark - his faith was in God.
Mark loved God. He loved his family. And he loved The Bridge. As mentioned at his funeral, wherever you started a conversation with Mark, it always came back to The Bridge.
Mark was only fifty-two when he suffered a massive stroke that took his life. This young church has lost its pastor, leader and friend. He was well loved and his influence on the community and the Kingdom of God will be remembered for generations.
Mark died doing what he absolutely loved: growing the Kingdom of God. He served the Lord with all his heart, mind and strength. Now he is enjoying his eternal reward.
We will miss you Mark.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Missionary to Morgantown

Our Trinity missions team just returned from wild and wonderful West Virginia. We served alongside pastor Johnny and Maria Whitehair - missionaries and pastors. One morning, Johnny was driving our team leader, Craig Bell, and me to different job sites. As we would leave one place he would say, "Hey, do we have just ten more minutes?" Of course we had no choice, we were stuck in a truck with him. He then would take us to another house that needed repair, or show us another ministry that needed laborers. The need is so great and the laborers are so few.

One morning, Craig and I found ourselves in the truck again and heard the familiar question. We answer, "Sure, why not? But please, just ten minutes. We have things to do..."

Johnny then took us to West Virginia University, home to 29,000 college students. He took us to a place on the campus which overlooks Westover, a small town across the river from Morgantown. From that vantage point you can see clearly the school we were working on which will one day be a church. "We need a cross on that school so the students can see it. And when they do, they will be reminded that there is a God and there is always hope."

Pastor Johnny reminds me of another that looked out over a city and was moved with compassion. The scripture tells us that Jesus was moved to the point of pain when he looked out over Jerusalem and saw the people as lost and hurting. He then called the disciples to pray for laborers in the ripened harvest field.

Johnny has caught the heart of Jesus for his community. He reaches out to everyone in need. He feeds the hungry, gives rides to those going to work, gives away hundreds of bikes to kids, preaches and teaches, ect, etc.. His vision goes way beyond his ability and provision. But isn't that just like God? If Johnny could do it on his own, then he wouldn't need God.

We are praying with you Pastor Johnny - "Lord, send forth laborers into this harvest field."

For pictures of our trip, visit www.trinitymissions.smugmug.com

Serving Together,