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Archive for November, 2013

Well, I baptized 20 people in a rushing, muddy creek in Rwanda today.  That old Oak Ridge Boys song kept running through my head, “They baptized Jesse Taylor in Cedar Creek last Sunday”.  I’m pretty sure Cedar Creek was cleaner than the creek I was in.  Think of being waist high in coffee with cream and sugar rushing down a miniature gorge.  One lump or two?

I love baptisms.  The toughest part in Africa is getting the names right, but they don’t care; they’re just thrilled to be getting baptized.  Laughing, singing, and praising the Lord, we all stood in that creek, plunging under the water.  What a blast!

Then we all headed back to the church for a full-blown service.  I wasn’t expecting all this, but once I was inside the church, there was no getting out for several hours. The place was packed.  It would have driven a Fire Marshall here in the States crazy. There was no room to squeeze in one more person, but somehow more people would slide their way in anyway, especially once the music started and the dancing began.  We were there for hours.  What a service!

How different they are from us in the sedate West. They are not worried about the correct or proper way of doing things – they just do them.  Instead of being tampered down with inhibitions, they just let loose.  Yes, I suppose we all have our different preferences, but I gotta tell you, I want to be in Heaven with these guys, whooping’ and hollerin’, dancing around like mad, and giving myself over to the passions of praise.

They just have more fun.  And I plan on having a whole lot of fun when I get to Heaven.

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Widows and Orphans

I just spent a week or so overlooking the construction of a new church and orphanage in Uganda. As you may know, I have been working closely with Pastor Noah for a few years bringing a message of revival across Africa.  In keeping with that same spirit, his wife Diana began to reach out to the local prostitutes, bringing them into God’s saving grace and teaching them how to sew.  We call them the Ladies of Hope.

A problem arose when some of the ladies had died and left children that nobody wanted.  Almost all of the Ladies of Hope have AIDS, as do their children, and this disease has claimed three of the women.  Another lady was murdered by a former “client” when she would not give in to his demand for sex.  No one wants these “tainted” kids, not even their grandparents, so Noah and his sister have been taking them in. They now have twenty orphans.

This is an open-ended problem that will only keep growing, especially as more and more women are desperately coming in all the time from prostitution. In the midst of our looking for a way to build some kind of orphanage to house these children, the landlord decided to cancel the lease on Noah’s church.  Now we have to build, not only an orphanage, but also a new church and find the land to put in on.

Thankfully, someone has met the challenge and has given enough money to quickly build some buildings to keep this important work going.  We have come to make sure everything is going well. The church should be basically finished enough to move into in a few weeks. They will miss a few services, but at least we have established a place to establish the ongoing presence of God’s people.

Everything seems to be a challenge out here. You can’t just do some simple project without something going wrong.  It’s as if the devil just hangs out waiting to flip things around on you.  Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.  It certainly keeps you diligent.

There is a need for volunteers to watch over the children. Know anybody who wants to give up their luxuries, live in a 3rd world country, struggle for support, leave your friends and social life, but lose your heart in a desperate love for the most precious of God’s creations? The riches you earn here last forever.

Or how about sponsoring a child?  Widows and orphans top the list for God. I’m not sure how the blessing meter ramps up when you take one of these kids under your wing, but I got a strong feeling that $40 a month will pay off in dividends you can’t imagine … and they will pay off for a long, long time.  How about $100 per month?  It really takes more than that to pay for all their needs for a month, but a hundred bucks is a good start.  If the Lord starts dealing with you on this, please contact me and I will help set you up.  We  need your help.

It will be a few more weeks before everything is done.  I’ll try and send some pictures when it is finished.  In the meantime, I am heading to Rwanda before coming home. 

But I’ll tell you all about that later.

 

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A Christian gentleman I know committed an indiscretion recently with a young prostitute who approached him at a café. He had been a Christian for years and had never even entertained committing adultery.  He knew what this young woman’s intentions were, nevertheless he thought he might witness to her to see if he could convince her to give up her sins.  Unfortunately, the opposite happened.

After a short while, as she began to reel him in, he was overcome with waves of lust that were drowning him. Before long, he was kissing her and then roaming with his hands, eventually succumbing to oral sex in a nearby alleyway.

When it was over, he was devastated. This was not like him. He would never have done such a terrible thing.  How on earth did this happen? It was almost like a hiccup in reality.  But it really did happen, and it happened to him.  What’s more it can happen to anyone.

He cried to the Lord for forgiveness, but would God really forgive him, or would he be terribly punished and see his testimony as a staunch Christian be destroyed? He didn’t feel worthy and had nothing to offer as payment or ransom, but he appealed to the Savior anyway.  Just maybe God would have mercy and forgive him even though there was no excuse for what he had done.

He read the Psalms where David struggled with the same sin.  But David was the apple of God’s eye. Of course God would forgive David, but what about him?  He was just a regular guy, nothing special, and even though he had spent his life as a strong Christian, there wasn’t anything that suggested that God would bestow upon him any special favors.  He had committed sin and would have to pay the price, whatever that would be, and that was that.

But God doesn’t think like us.

This opens up a depth about forgiveness, sin, our need for a Savior, and what Jesus really did when He went to the Cross.  He didn’t die because we deserved it, neither did He die because we asked. When we were still in sin and rebellion, He shed His blood for us.

He did it because He is God.

Our friend now has a deeper compassion for those who fall into sin.  Now he understands how easy and compelling lust can be, and how quickly it can take complete control over you.  And which sin is worse? Lying? Hate? Gossip? Unforgiveness?  Spiritual pride?  So how do we judge someone who has fallen to lust? Can we exercise the same compassion that has been shown to us?

When I got saved, I never had that overwhelming thankfulness of being forgiven.  I just said the prayer and joined the army.  I have acknowledged but never understood the mercy of God and how thankful we all should be.  But begging God for forgiveness and for another chance changes the whole picture. Grasping this desperation for forgiveness causes David’s prayers to leave the poignant realm of poetry and become a desperate cry from the very essence of our lives. “Oh God, if you will just pass over this sin, how thankful I would be!  Please give me another chance!”

And He does.  Wow.  He didn’t have to, but He does.  Why?  Because he delights in mercy?  Because He is love incarnate?  Yeah, okay, but I still don’t understand why.  We didn’t keep the rules and we should be punished.  And maybe we will be … but maybe we won’t be.  That strict adherence to the rules is not the Grace of God.

That’s the nature of the Cross, that He gave his life with no conditions. We had nothing in our hands to give – no reimbursement, no ransom, no special deeds or talents, nothing worthy … nothing but our hearts.  And He forgave us because He loved us.

I still don’t understand, but I sure feel a lot better.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

(Isa 55:8-9)

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Here are the Youtube videos of four revival services in Maypearl, TX on Oct 26th and 27th.

Session 1 – Principles of Revival and Something is wrong with the Church

Session 2 – Repentance and Soul-Winning, the secret of revival.

Session 3 – How to Build a Fire in the Church

Session 4 – Joel chapter 2 – the coming Last Great Revival

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