Don’t Get Caught Up In A Bunch of Spare Rituals!

Grace Changes EverythingIn order to live under His grace – we must believe that He is exactly who He says He is and that we are exactly who He says we are!

We’ve all made these types of statements and one time or another:    “Well, at least I’m not as bad as ???”; “Yeah I did that, but at least I didn’t act like ???”; “I’m a Christian! I go to church every Sunday!”.  We have all, at one time or another, had an established list of must do items that we believed made us more righteous than another; or we have all held ourselves out to be better than someone else to justify or glaze over our own sin.  Some have gotten caught up in rituals that they think make them more righteous — thanking God for food loudly in a restaurant; participating in an annual church outreach event; using all the right words (blessed and highly favored, I’m doing well by his grace, etc.); wearing Christian t-shirts/fish/crosses; etc.  Still others have become legalistic in an effort to prove themselves ‘holier than thou’.  Well, none of that will cause you to live fully under the grace of God.

If we want to live victoriously, we have to take Him at His word.  If we want to experience His favor, we have to believe Him in such a way that our faith can be counted as righteousness.  There is no way – absolutely no way – to please Him with rules and rituals.  Rules and Rituals only give us cause to judge one another.  When my boys were younger, they loved listening to The Cross Movement.  They had a song that said:

Without Christ it ain’t spiritual – you’re just caught up in a bunch of spare rituals” – The Cross Movement

If our spiritual lives consist only of rules, regulations, and statutes; then our reward will be self-judgment and the judgment of other fallen people — we will never walk in victory!  However, if we define our spiritual lives by our belief in God; in who He is and in what He says; then we walk under the Grace of God!  Christ has given us the privilege of living as heirs with Him, but we must choose to walk in faith.  Not trying to justify ourselves against another’s failings, but instead accepting the justification that we have not earned – but have been freely given by God the Father through His son Jesus Christ.

I pray that the Father will help us to live for Him and not for ourselves.  I pray that He will help us to reserve judgement and instead show mercy.  I pray that He will help us to appreciate fully what it means to be given justification and to be counted as righteous through Christ. I pray that He will liberate us from the desire to check off a list of good deeds and ‘righteous’ acts.  I pray that we will allow Him to teach us what it means to be free indeed.

However, the law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them” (Galatians 3:12)

Put on the Whole Armor!

fruit gnatsAnnoying little creatures they are! Fruit flies! I detest them.

When we were still living in Nkwanta, Ghana – one of my sons and I were talking about where in the world they come from.  I mean did they just  – you know – just APPEAR.

We did a little research and found that when you bring a piece of fruit into your home there is a very high risk that a fly has laid an egg on the skin/rind/shell of that fruit. So, if you bring the fruit home and do not wash it until you intend to eat it – the chances that you will see gnats flying around are high.

In Ghana the fruit is so very good so we always brought home fresh pineapples, avocados, mangoes and watermelon. I always washed them well before storing them. One particular day I awoke and there were still my little flying friends in the morning!  I checked my fruit well and found a very small soft spot on my watermelon – that was the culprit! We got rid of it – and my little flying annoyances disappeared. They were attracted to “live” trash – fresh fruit, yeast, etc. They were attracted to things that show that they have life.

As I thought about this I thought about the myriad of issues that we are facing in our ministry life.  It seems that not a days go by that we are not dealing with some issue that threatens the effectiveness of our ministry – nothing major, just annoyances that make you want to shoo them away. Annoying – these little darts that the enemy keeps throwing at us. We pray, we fast, we practice silence before God, even lectio divina – and yet they persist. It occurred to me that like my little flying friends – these darts are attracted to life. The enemy would not be annoying us so much if he didn’t see that our ministry was alive and doing well. You see, the enemy too is attracted to life! He wants to steal, kill and destroy – and if there is already spiritual death, then there is nothing for him to take, execute, or annihilate. So I guess we are in good company!

Fruit Flies!! I do despise them – but as for the annoyances of the enemy, I say bring ‘em on. I am alive in Christ, I am fully devoted to His mission in this world – and if that brings on attacks from the enemy, then I have the faith to conquer them, to withstand the test, and yes – to expect the incredible and the impossible! I am clothed with the breastplate of righteousness — and that will extinguish the darts!

I encourage you to put on the full armor of God when the enemy comes your way.  He wants to discourage the army of the Lord; but trust that God has you and will keep you.  If it is for the sake of the Kingdom of God – Don’t Quit!

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11

Breathe! You’re winning!

Psalm 62-5A life of faith is a life of battles.  This is difficult line to read – but one that is so very true.  Victory is assured …  that is indeed true – but we win only in Him and we keep the advantage on the battleground only as we continually pray.

The enemy is always seeking to wreck us; to turn us on our heads; to confuse us; to make us feel like we are at a loss. But the battle belongs to Our Lord – and yes, Victory is Our Savior’s!

The lesson of the believer, one that must never be forgotten, is that we are in battle!  Somehow, it seems, we have come to believe that we can sit back and feel like royalty because we’ve already won – but this is not nearly true!  The battle will not end until He has returned!

Stand firm! Hide the Word of the Lord in your heart! Have faith and do not fear! Stand on the Rock of Our Salvation at all times!  In times of trouble, remember that God is your salvation, your strength, and your glory.  Don’t get proud when it seems you have won – NO! Remember to whom the victory belongs – He is your glory!  You are not the victor – it is the One to whom you have given your life; the One who gave the life of His Son to save you.  The hope for peace is not in any other being but Him!

The riches of God’s lovingkindness Will Not Fail!  The supply that comes from His hand Will Always Be Enough! The Prayers we bring to His throne Will Always Be Heard!

Don’t put your arms down – stay in the battle and expect to enjoy the victory with your King! He will give you rest – don’t doubt it! Breathe – Trust – Expect!

Psalm 62:5 – 6

God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I’m set for life. 

 

Black Missionaries Making History – Lloyd and Jan Chinn

IMG_0035Thank you for reading my blog during African American History Month as I highlighted some of my heroes. There are a few more after this one.  I hope that you have learned a lot and that your heart has been turned toward missions.  If the desire to serve has been ignited please email me at j.chinn@worldventure.com and it will be my great pleasure to walk with you along the road to serve Our King across the world.


Lloyd and Jan Chinn are native to Texas. Lloyd from Edna, TX and Jan from Houston, TX.

In 1999, Lloyd was invited to Ghana, West Africa on a short term mission. Lloyd and Jan had never even met a missionary and had no desire to enter into missionary service; they scarcely knew where Africa was – and had never heard of Ghana. God provided the funds for the journey and they took that as confirmation that Lloyd was to go. God spoke to Lloyd clearly on that trip that Africa would be his context of ministry.  In 2000 they took all of their children and 22 other people to the same little town in Ghana – and on that trip, Jan’s experience opened her eyes to the need for discipleship in Ghana. Lloyd’s firm message to the African American church became: “Pray! Pay! or Pack!”

In 2002, Lloyd and Jan were appointed as long term missionaries with CBInternational ( now WorldVenture) and opened a new field of ministry in Ghana. Their mission agency was concerned that as African Americans, they wouldn’t be able to raise the financial support – but God had another plan! The Chinn’s had unprecedented support from the African American church in Texas. In 2004, the Chinns sold everything they owned and boarded a plane with one way tickets to Ghana, West Africa!  It wasn’t easy – they did not have a team; they did not know the language or culture; they had to send their sons to boarding school in Senegal; they endured loneliness; the pain of being misunderstood; the hurt of being taken advantage of; a complete change of systems and culture and yet – they persevered. The Chinn’s ability to move to Ghana as a family and have effective ministry was God’s anointing. God called them to it and He equipped them for it. Lloyd and Jan as well as their sons learned the Asante Twi language and developed friendships in both national and local government and across denominations in Ghana and learned to submit to the leaders in the church and in the community which gained them respect and love in the country. The Chinns served in Ghana for 10 years mainly in Pastoral Leadership Development. The needs of the community in Nkwanta led them to also engage in Orphan Care, Educational Development, Women’s Empowerment and Community Economic Development.

In 2013, they returned to the USA on a home assignment which was supposed to last 10 months. During their first few months in the US, the leadership of WorldVenture called and asked them to take on the role of International Ministries Director for Africa. In March 2014, they stepped in to this new role where they are now missionaries to the missionary; providing pastoral care, leadership development and strategic planning assistance for 108 missionary units (some families; some singles) in 13 countries across Africa. They are the first African Americans to serve in this capacity with their mission. Lloyd also serves with MANI (the Movement for African National Initiatives).

If you want to serve in Africa — get in contact with them, they’ll show you the way! Email them at Africa@WorldVenture.com or at missions@crossoverbf.com

Black Missionary History – Amanda Berry Smith

smith_amanda_berryEvangelist and missionary Amanda Berry Smith (1837-1915) became well known for her beautiful voice and inspired teaching and hence, opportunities to evangelize in the South and West opened up for her.

In 1876, she was invited to speak and sing in England travelling on a first class cabin provided by her friends. The captain invited her to conduct a religious service on board and she was so modest that the other passengers spread word of her and resulted in her staying in England and Scotland for a year and a half.

She next traveled to and ministered in India, then spent eight years in Africa (Egypt, Sierra Leone, Liberia) working with churches and evangelizing. While in Africa she suffered from repeated attacks of “African Fever” but persisted in her work. In her journal entry for February 5, 1884 she writes:

“Second Gospel Temperance meeting. Surely the Spirit of the Lord is with us, and He is blessing us greatly. Not so much liberty in speaking, but God is with us, and we are expecting great things. Oh, Lord, for Jesus’ sake, answer prayer, and send us the Holy Ghost to quicken and revive us.”

She founded the Amanda Smith Orphans’ Home for African-American children in a suburb of Chicago. She was called “God’s image carved in ebony.” Amanda Smith retired to Sebring, Florida in 1912 due to failing health. She died in 1915 at the age of 78.

Amanda has one of very few written autobiographies by black americans of that time period.  You can read her an electronic copy of her autobiography “An Autobiography. The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith the Colored Evangelist; Containing an Account of Her Life Work of Faith, and Her Travels in America, England, Ireland, Scotland, India, and Africa, as an Independent Missionary”at this link –  Autobiography of Amanda Smith