A simple and wonderful story of God’s faithfulness and what He has done and continues to do in Russia. Listen patiently. Listen expectantly. Listen without distractions. Then spend a few moments in prayer for the work of God in difficult places and for the servants who take the gospel there.
A Snap Shot of an Evening in the Neighborhood
All times are approximate.
Home at 5:30 PM: Out for a brief bike ride, 22 minutes, 6 miles. Stop at High School gym to look in on a girls Volleyball game. One of our families has a daughter on the team. It’s a chance to sit with them, encourage their daughter and connect with others in the community. Varsity game not till 7:15 PM.
6:15 PM: Continue on the Heritage Woods, an adult living center less than a quarter mile from both my house and the H.S. Talk to the nurse on call about inviting residents to be our quests for the Thursday afternoon taping of the weekly sermon. The thought is that it will give the residents some time out of the facility, allow us to expand the ministry of the word, and the larger audience will help me to preach with more energy. Good conversation and a phone number to call to coordinate.
6:25 PM: As I leave Heritage Woods, a dozen residents are sitting outside waiting for the fancy car Tuesday night ride through (A once a month club that gives our town something to celebrate together.) It’s fun, free and get’s people out talking and fellowshipping together. I interact with them for under 10 minutes. Smiles all around. Me: “What’s your favorite car?” Them: “What church are you from?” We swap a few stories and then I part with, “Enjoy the cars, enjoy being out together, and most of all, enjoy the Lord.” To which two say, “amen” and all smile. Back to the house for a quick shower and a bite to eat.
7:05 PM: Give my wife a kiss and then it’s back to the High School to watch the game. On my way out I give a wave to a neighbor who is out playing with his son in the front yard. We talked yesterday and the wave affirms a growing friendship.
7:10 PM: Great match. Our girls win the first game, and then lose two hard-fought and close games to lose the match. But we’re proud of them. The school they compete against is much larger and the girls battle hard. I have a good time with the family and eat an extra bag of popcorn.
8:30 PM: Walk home praying for the contacts made, the relationships affirmed, the witness given, and the doors that will open up in the future as a result of a simple 2.5 hour investment.
Principles and Lessons:
- Sometimes “neighboring” is simply showing up and seeing what God does in the present and trusting Him with the future.
- Anybody can do this.
- This is only a start, but God uses “starts” to change the world.
Today in my Easter sunday Message I quoted Scottish medical-missionary, explorer, and abolitionist David Livingston (1813-1873). Missionaries are heroes for me and Livingstone was one of the most courageous even if he was not one of the most effective. No one ever doubted his courage or commitment.
He was asked how he could take all the risks, endure all the dangers, suffer all the deprivations he experienced in his travels through the interior of Africa.
“Without Christ, not one step,
with Christ, anywhere.”
May you, because of the resurrection of Christ, be so fearless and focused that you too will take no step without Christ, and every step, everywhere for his glory.
Thursday is for Mission
Recently, I had the honor and privilege of lending my voice to the ministry of VVMI (Vernacular Video Ministry International). Here’s the result. Pray for the translation and distribution of God’s word.
Everywhere it goes, lives change for the better, destinies change for eternity.
Fun fact: Opening shot on the video and about half way through, that’s Bob and Elizabeth Fusak on their wedding day, some 22 years ago. They were two of the first converts to Christ at New Song Church, the church we planted in Bolingbrook, IL in the Fall of 1991. It was also the first wedding I performed in IL.
Wednesday is for Prayer
Whether your church is new or old, organic or traditional, large or small, whether it meets in a building or a house, in a community center or under a tree, if your location is anywhere in North America, these six things are true about your congregation (and mine):
- We are not as mature as we think we are.
- We are not as bold as we ought to be.
- We are not as prayerful as we should be.
- We aren’t as generous as we could be.
- We aren’t as focused as the needs of our time demand.
- We aren’t as deep as we need to be.
And that starts by getting on our knees.
Start a revolution in your church.
I’m not denying a process in becoming a fisher of men, I’m just saying that mature discipleship always yields a gospel telling man or woman, compelled by the beauty of the gospel, the needs of others and most of all, the command of Christ, to tell others. It doesn’t take as long as some people say. And when the process is drawn out too long it actually hinders spiritual growth.
For more see: We’ve Got Discipleship All Wrong.
“When you give people freedom, you get chaos, but you also get incredible creativity. Because everyone tries to contribute to the community, you get a great variety of expression.” (p. 81.)
For more see: Brief Review of The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman.