“Jesus said to them, ‘You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’”—John 8:31-32 (TLB).
Five vehicles rolled away from Restore Hope Ministries in Tulsa on Friday, June 19. Filling three church buses and two large SUVs, almost 60 children and nine adults spent the morning learning about the ministry as well as helping to unload canned goods and stock shelves for the following week. The children were part of my church’s VBS program with fifth and sixth graders dedicated to mission work during the five-day program.
Pastor Jeff Jaynes with Restore Hope shared the mission’s goal to help restore families in financial crisis to economic and spiritual vitality. As he shared about their ministry, he gave statistics and facts about hunger in Oklahoma, our country and the world. Worldwide, one billion people don’t know IF they are going to get another meal while 300,000 million Americans, or one in seven, don’t know WHEN they are going to eat again. The same is true in Oklahoma with one in seven people not knowing when they will get their next meal. Almost half of those in Oklahoma who are hungry include households with children under age 18.
Maybe what we did today can help them in the future.
As Pastor Jaynes shared with the children about the plight of those who go hungry, he said, “People who have enough food don’t realize how many are going hungry.”
Referencing tithing in the Bible, Pastor Jaynes added, “If just the Christians in America put 10 percent in the offering plate each month, we could solve hunger today. If every one of us did what we are supposed to do, we could eradicate hunger.”
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”—Hebrews 12:2(NASB).
At a recent women’s event where I was the guest speaker, I sat in the audience listening to a husband and wife on stage as they provided the music for the luncheon. Playing the piano and singing hymns, the wife shared her musical gifts from God with us. However, I was stunned as I watched her husband play the guitar with equal skill. What made his gift even more amazing was he played one-handed. While he had two arms, he had suffered a stroke, leaving his right side paralyzed. Many might have given up, but this man had not. Through the encouragement of his wife, he had been able to regain part of his ability to share with others his amazing gift of music. What a testimony!
The topic of my presentation that day was “God is the Author.” As I shared my testimony, recapping the journey of my walk with God and how He had led me to my current writing and speaking ministry, I was reminded once again how easy it can be to just give up when we hit speed bumps in life.
Dare ya! Double Dog Dare you to give one more degree!
There have been times I wanted to tell God, “I quit. I can’t do this anymore.” Then, I’m reminded of Philippians 3:14. “… for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (TLB). Through His strength, through His power, we can accomplish what He has called us to do.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers”—Philippians4:6 (TLB).
Praying aloud in a group setting wasn’t easy for me before I made Jesus the Lord of my life. If the group leader asked for a volunteer to lead the prayer, I remained silent, waiting for someone else to speak out.
My thoughts raced with the following: What if I don’t know what to say? What if my words are jumbled? I don’t even know how to use eloquent, “religious-sounding” words. I’m just plain scared! What if I just sound stupid?
As my walk with God has deepened, so has my prayer life. I’ve learned to pray from the heart. I’ve learned formulas don’t matter as long as your heart is in tune with His. This doesn’t mean I ignore praying as Jesus taught His disciples. (The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in two of the gospels: Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4.)
There is no formula to prayer—it is simply conversing with God.
Evangelist Billy Graham says, “There is no formula to prayer—it is simply conversing with God. It is essentially talking with God as you would talk with an earthly parent who loves you and wants the best for you. God is your Heavenly Father who loves you perfectly.”
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”—Romans 3:23 (HCSB).
If you’ve ever seen a wisteria vine, especially in bloom, you know its charms are almost impossible to resist. That’s what drew me to purchase one about four years ago. When I first saw the beautiful lavender flowers on the vines wrapped around an arbor in a neighbor’s yard, I knew I had to have one.
I succumbed to the beauty of the blooms dangling from the vines. Mesmerized, I couldn’t wait to have one growing over the arbor in my own backyard. After purchasing one at a local garden center, I hurried home to plant the woody, climbing vine. However, I soon discovered this invasive plant has a mind of its own.
In an article by Jeanne Rostaing called, “Wisteria: A Dangerous Beauty (Are You Tempted?),” she says, “You are not the first to succumb. Marco Polo was an early conquest. He brought wisteria seeds out of China in the 13th century. But you would be wise to take the time to get to know this beauty before you commit to her. Like a Jezebel, she will steal your heart and then, after you are weakened and besotted with love, she will set about to dominate your garden and, if possible, your house. Take this caveat to heart: she is fully capable of attempting to murder your other plants.”
Does God need to do some pruning in your life?
While the wisteria has not taken over my house, it dominates my arbor and the corner of the backyard where it is planted. Even if I had known how much work this plant takes to maintain, I would still have planted it because I love working in my yard. The resulting beauty of my labor is worth the efforts I expend.
“He asked a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep’”—John 21:17(CEB).
For over 10 years, my 2001 Honda Passport has sported a bumper sticker stating, “Real Men Love Jesus.” Although women have commented on the slogan, I’ve never had a man mention it—until recently.
As I was approaching a red light, a pickup pulled up next to me. Honking his horn, the driver pointed at me. Did I have a tire going flat? Had I left the gas cap dangling when I’d filled up with gas a few minutes earlier? He kept pointing at me as I lowered my window. Smiling, he yelled, “Yes, lady, real men do love Jesus.”
“If men would love Jesus they would be real men.”
The light turned green and as we drove off, he gave me a thumbs-up sign. Smiling, I returned his gesture. I’m sure the smile on my face was plastered from ear-to-ear.
Byron Yawn, Community Bible Church pastor in Nashville, says, “We turn to heroic biblical figures and icons in (movies for examples of manhood) but not to Christ. Yet Christ is the one to whom all biblical figures point and the one who makes Hollywood depictions of strength look foolish. There is no understanding of manhood without understanding Christ.”
Yawn admits that for years he mocked the bumper sticker that reads ‘Real Men Love Jesus.’ “I considered it an oversimplification and evidence of slogan-driven spirituality,” he says. “I once saw it posted on a billboard strategically situated over a gentlemen’s club. It seemed a foolish gesture. Are we to believe that Jesus can save us from the brazen immorality in our culture? Yes. We must believe it or there is nothing to believe.
To my readers: I would like to share the following written by Darrell “Coach D” Andrews, Motivational Strategist, Consultant, Accountability Coach and Book Author. Darrell Andrews is a former youth pastor who now engages youth worldwide from all walks of life. For more information about Coach Andrews, you can check out his website at http://coachdspeaks.com/ I hope you are motivated by his post below to take action. Our children, our youth need us to make a difference in their lives. It is up to each of us. As Coach Darrell says, “We all have a part to play.”
Darrell “Coach D” Andrews
I have been blessed as a former youth pastor and now as a speaker to interact with hundreds of thousands of youth worldwide. I have had the privilege of engaging youth from all walks of life, races and socioeconomic situation. With all this being said, I was recently telling my wife that over the years I noticed a pattern. This pattern is deeply concerning to me. The looks in the eyes of many of our youth are getting darker and their care for others is diminishing. It seems like the influence of this world, with all of its gadgets, negative music, movement away from Godly things, and demise of family structure, is being very effective at winning the hearts of kids, Christians and non-Christians. The bible is very clear in its realization that it is our responsibility to protect our children. The scriptures are very clear on this subject:
1. Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
2. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
3. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
“Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature”— Ephesians 4:23-24 (TLB).
“Your Encouragement for the Week email moved me this afternoon.” This opening line in an email I recently received from a reader of my column brought affirmation when I needed it the most. I was humbled after reading the email from a reader in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
I’m amazed how God uses what He has laid on my heart to reach others in countries where I’ve never been. In this instance, my reader had written about a previous column titled, “Do You Know the Most Dangerous Prayer?”
The column’s focus was about being used by God. While I don’t have the space to go into the contents of her entire email, I know God used this woman to encourage me, just as He had used my writing to reach her in her time of need.
“Walking in newness and being renewed is a daily process and a life choice.”
I’d been struggling for several months about a decision concerning my freelance writing for other publications. I was “burned out,” but concerned about giving up the additional income. I also wanted to focus exclusively on my Christian writing. Just a week prior to receiving the above email, God had heard my pleas for guidance and I’d taken that big step, giving up my other writing jobs. When the decision was made, I was filled with peace. This reader’s email affirmed what I already knew. God would take care of my finances if I obeyed Him to focus on what He has called me to do.