Tainted Water – The Solution Is Discipleship

Tainted WaterOnce while driving in Ghana – we passed by a water well that had been drilled for a local community and saw some children fetching water. They were pulling together on their rope to get their bucket out – and then came shock – horror! They were fetching the water in a turpentine can! Because we lived here among this particular people group, we KNOW that no one washed the container out with soap and water or bleach or boiling water – they just rinsed it in the local pond until they couldn’t smell the turpentine and then declared it fit for use. We love these people and our hearts went out to them.  We immediately planned a healthy drinking water training for them.  A training that would help them to understand what things would contaminate the water and what was necessary for them to avoid introducing contaminates into their drinking water. They needed to know that if contaminates were introduced – this water would bring death and not life.

Not only is clean water important — but understanding what can contaminate water is important.   

There is a tendency in the Western world to believe that once we have shared the truth of the gospel with people and they have confessed that they believe – we have done our part. But I am a witness that what you leave behind is a person that believes the truth, but has no idea what the truth is, or what to do with that truth. They twist it to fit their circumstance, they ignore the parts that they cannot easily understand, some rise to a position of leadership and then exploit the little that they know to their own benefit – – some minister an adulterated gospel and taint the water for an entire congregation. What is the solution to this issue?

The solution is to teach the complete gospel.

That means that we go beyond salvation. We have to teach people to study the word of God so that they can come to know the person of God. But what if they can’t read?  We’ve encountered this many times where we work.  Then the solution is discipleship.  We have to be willing to give the time and resources necessary to teach them to read or to provide an audio bible. After teaching them to read the word or to listen to the word, we must teach them to interact in the word in such a way that it becomes something that they can apply to their life! When we equip them with these tools – they will know what the truth looks like and are less likely to fall prey to any contaminated word. When we equip them with these tools then we are preparing them to protect the word that is taking root in their hearts. When we equip them with these tools – we ensure that the word will bring them to the abundant life that God has planned for them.

But this takes TIME!! And, be honest, how many of us are willing to give our precious time to another?? I can tell you as one who lives a life of discipleship, that it is a 24 hour a day commitment. The women that I disciple call whenever they need to, they visit whenever they need to, they invite me to delve into places in their lives that I don’t want to go! And I am also a witness – that you might have an 8 week program – but I have yet to disciple any believer in only 8 weeks!

Discipleship is life on life – LIFE on LIFE!! It means loving someone as much as you love yourself. Would you drink tainted water willingly?! I think not!!

Interestingly – our Savior’s last words to us were that we should go, preach, teach and make disciples. He really did not say go, preach, teach, and get them saved! We’ve got to be willing to give our whole lives to the purposes and passions of our Savior and King – He wants them to know Him, He wants them to know the Father, He wants them to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the words of my husband, “time has come to stop dunkin’ ‘em and droppin’ ‘em” – we’ve got to start counting them as so dear to us that we not only give them the gospel but our very lives.  In fact – we ought to be modeling the life of Christ in view of people even before they know who He is!!  What a change in the world we could make!

so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Weeping for Lost Souls

hearttearsReading the account of Lazarus death and resurrection in John, I was struck by the grief of our Savior.  The onlookers remarked about his love for Lazarus.  I re-read the account and it occurred to me that because He is God – what He grieved for was probably not what we might think he  grieved for.  Yes – He loved Lazarus; but it seems unusual to me that our Lord who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead would be weeping over the loss of life; so I re-read the passage several more times and then it occurred to me that the humanity of our Christ came face to face with the reality of the wages of sin and what it means for a fallen humanity.  He was fully human – Yes! – but he was without sin!  He loved these people deeply and what was happening here brought our Lord face to face with the effects that sin would have not only on the sinner, but on those whom the sinner loves. I believe that He grieved for their sinfulness. He grieved the effects of their unbelief.  Continue reading

Seasoned with Grace

colossians4_5_6I live with a purpose — to live and speak in a way that reflects the one thing in my life that truly matters – Jesus Christ.  My belief that God loved me so much that He sent His Son, in spite of my willful rebellion, to die as a perfect sacrifice for me to once again enjoy right relationship with Him.  This belief is what should mark my words at all times.  I don’t always succeed – but it is my goal everyday.  This too is with purpose — that the world will be reconciled to God.

I live among Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics and many more.  I have friends among all of them.  I have been told by my friends that what they appreciate is that I don’t spend my days brow beating them into submission to what I hold to be true.  Rather, I spend my time treating my friends who are outside of the household of faith with the love and grace that has so generously been lavished upon me.  Further, I spend my private time – my alone time – studying the Word of God and the life of my Savior, Jesus Christ, so that when matter of faith come up my words will be His words and not my own – colored in dogma or arrogance.  I don’t degrade or denounce what anyone else believes — but I speak and live in such a way that the people around me know that I am certain that what I believe about Jesus is the absolute truth! Are you getting this?

There’s a lot of hateful behavior and talk going around in our nation right now.  We would rather kill them all and hold them in disdain than do what God in Christ asked us to do;  love them back to the truth.  I don’t care what they believe or how they are living; the truth is that God loves them and desires that they should not perish.  He didn’t place us on this earth to hate people.  He didn’t place us here to exchange the love of Christ for a gun and hateful words! It is our role to be the gospel to the world.

When we open our mouths, our words should drip with the sweet aroma of the Holy Spirit; offering a positive testimony to this world of the love and light of Christ.  When we are with people our actions should be drenched in grace, truth and love  so that people are attracted to what is within us.  Our words and lives should be exciting, attractive, winsome, lovely, grace filled, marked by patience – they should reflect what is inside of us!

Our words and our lives should be making such an indelible imprint on the world around us that there should be no mistake as to who is King of Kings; the Prince of Peace; the Great I Am.  Our presence in the world should make us unforgettable to everyone we come in contact with.  Do they know that they’ve been with a Christ follower when they’ve been with you?

I am so hopeful that I will never forget that my life is not about me being seen, nor is about me being right.  It is not about me having freedom and liberty on this earth. My life is about the ministry of reconciliation.  I’ve gotta live and speak what I say my heart believes!  As the old folk used to say – you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6

My Broken Heart — And the Hope that I hold on to in Christ

Thinking of the countless Wednesday nights that I sat in a Bible Study in a school, in a classroom, in a church sanctuary. Thinking of my many pastor friends all over this nation that gather with their congregants to study God’s word in sanctuaries, classrooms, basements, etc. I keep wondering if one of them might be next. I keep thinking might we be next? I went to my office yesterday and sat in meetings all day – important meetings, kingdom meetings with people who I know care for me – but only one person in that office asked how my heart was as relates to what happened in South Carolina. Sadly, I was not surprised. Not an indictment on my colleagues, but an indicator of a bigger problem that is affecting this nation, especially the Body of Christ. We don’t see one another. We don’t love one another. We just live among one another, existing and tightly controlling when and how our paths might cross outside of the office or outside of the local church body. When will we have the courage to admit that we hate? When will we have the courage to admit that we overlook injustice because it is easier than facing it? When will we have the courage to admit that we don’t love equally across ethnic lines? We Have A Problem and if we’re not careful, it will carry us away – down a river of death, pain, and ultimately separation from the will of the God we say that we love! Yes – I am affected by the tragedy! I am affected because we try to make these images trite, common – we act like its just another tragedy. What’s the difference to us whether it is a boy with a hoodie; a man stealing cigarettes; a man who just robbed a store; or, a group of people studying the Word of God! This thing is escalating! This tragedy – this act of our enemy Satan – has rocked me to my core! Not just a racial attack – but an affront to the Christian faith as well. There is no alleged shooter here — there are no alleged victims; it is all crystal clear! This guy intended to do evil and he did just that. Call it mental illness; call it hate; call it demonic activity — SEMANTICS! It is evil. It is demonic. It is sin. I am not praying for reconciliation or peace – I am praying for truth! I am praying that we will open our eyes and put feet to our faith. I am praying that the Body of Christ will ensure that our behavior will match what we say we believe so that we can be change agents in this world. We need to admit, as a nation, that there is a problem because only then will we have any chance at peace. Yes, my heart breaks that they were murdered — but not just because they were black and murdered — because they were murdered at all!

No More Fear!

2 timothy 1 7Have you ever been asked to do something new? odd? different? Do you, in spite of your gifts/talents, shrink back a bit when tasked with something that feels bigger than you?  I’m sure you don’t – but I sure do.  There is something about stepping out into some new ministry when you’ve had success in a smaller place that can take your breath.  When I was in church ministry I felt like God was allowing me to work and minister in my sweet spot.  But, I didn’t start off that way.  I was quite content being an alto in the choir.  My friend and mentor, the late Evangelist Brenda Waters, was talking to me over lunch at Picadilly Restaurant in Houston — she looked me square in the eye and said, “Whatcha scared of girl!? God has given you an ear for His music; He has given you a heart for His people; He has given you a voice that quiets a room!  Just lead — you’re not a background singer; God created you to lead!”  That started my life as a worship leader – my sweet spot.  But just as I settled in to that, the call to missions came.

I couldn’t take my musical gift to Ghana in the same way that it had been used in the USA so I floundered for a short while and entered into a time of fear, afraid of being insignificant in the work of the Kingdom.  Then the Holy Spirit helped me to see and understand what I was supposed to do in Ghana; lead people toward a life of worship; not just lead them in a worship service.  Being in authentic relationships with people so that they would know what it was to live, move and have their being in Him.  My new sweet spot!  But before I knew it – another call came — lead!

This time He asked me to worship Him with my whole life in a way that others would do the same; to love Him in such a way that the people that I ministered to would feel His love poured out through me.  Terrified!  Didn’t God know about my failings? my bad attitudes? my own personal kind of crazy?!  Yes! He knew all about it and we stepped into this role as ministry directors for Africa.  And — you guessed it — my new sweet spot! Every time I get an email from a missionary saying that they feel heard and cared for — I know that this is place I’m supposed to be!  The fears fell away – nothing is left except the power of God, the love of God and a mind that is clear about His purpose for me in this season and serious about being continually developed to operate fully in His purposes.

I want to encourage you.  Push past the fear.  Push past the feelings of inadequacy.  Push past your fears and timidity.  Push past your ego and your false humility.  Push past the enemies lies that tell you that you are less than enough; inadequate; ill equipped.  Press into the presence and power of God and you WILL find that your fears will cut tail and run!  Trust me!  More than that – Trust Him!  When God asked you to do that next hard thing, that next new thing, that next step off of a cliff — know that He delights in showing forth His glory through you and doing more in and through you than you could ever have asked, thought or imagined!  I don’t know who or what was vexing dear Timothy and making him feel timid — but Paul’s words to Him are for you today too…

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7