“The cause of Christ is best served when you allow God to create, measure and control, and you give yourself, by faith, to the task of investing in the lives of others.”
The Reverend Billy Graham when asked what was the most surprising thing in life, responded by saying, “Its’ brevity.”
Life is short.
I received an email several months ago that opened with the headline:
Hell is real.
Time is short.
Jesus says, “Go.”
But do we? Do we enter each day knowing that this day is a gift and that this day is mine to steward appropriately and then “GO?”
It is a day to give and to love and to sacrifice selfishness for what is sacred and pure and lovely. It is an opportunity to find fulfillment in Jesus and ALL He has to offer to us. We speak little of obedience today because we would rather serve ourselves and love ourselves first, but if we press into obedience Oswald Chambers said this:
“If I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God.”
Would it not be worth it to see, in part, the face of God and experience His smile than to give our lives to what is empty and self-serving and temporal?
For six years I have faithfully and consistently been in communication with those living under persecution. I know their stories intimately.
I have held the dying and I have fed the poor. I have stood in the pulpits of their congregations and seen their hunger for God’s Word. I have been under gunfire and bombings and I have faced the interrogations. I have embraced my “enemies” and I have grown to see the power of the Gospel among these “enemies” by simply having a presence amongst them.
In Mark 3 Jesus “called 12 to be with Him…” What does it mean to be “with Him,” to be with others, to be with them? We give little attention to the power of presence and the resulting affect it has on people, places, and cultures. We are driven by immediate results rather than patiently pursuing the heart of the person, the places, or the cultures. If you allow God to create, measure and control, and you give yourself, by faith, to the task of investing in the lives of others, then you are free to just be “with them.” No agendas, no preconceived notions and no expectations of outcomes. BUT there are. People are changed, places are transformed, and cultures experience renewal by simply being with them and leaving all the rest up to God.
Whenever I take a trip I always have a plan, but I am always looking for the real reason that I am on the trip. It is the unknown reason(s)–the mystery and wonder of God unfolding before us that is almost magical. Was it the Muslim taxi driver who I asked to tell me his story and after 20 minutes he was smiling and hugging me? Was it the two hours I had with two brothers, Rami and Nashat, who love Jesus and are doing amazing and daring things in The Middle East to show Muslims that Jesus is worthy to follow and at the same time, empowering and encouraging Jesus followers to live by faith and not by fear? Or was it the unexpected hour with Matthew from Wichita who is studying at The Hebrew University and longing to follow Jesus more closely? So much of the unknown reasons remain just that, unknown. But in the unknown there is a plan. Whether we see the fruit or fulfillment of that plan is less important than if we are willing to step into it. Usually it begins with a “hello” and a willingness to be interruptible.
A few months ago I was reminded of one’s willingness to be interrupted and one’s decision to be a presence while on a visit to Jerusalem. I awoke very early to travel to the Yahuda Hotel to meet with my friend who is from the Chicago area. He was in town for a gathering of church leaders who deeply care about that part of the world. He is a doctor not a pastor. But he takes the time to travel across the globe to make his passion(s) a reality. It is a sacrifice of time and a sacrifice of family and a sacrifice of finances and a sacrifice of soul and spirit because in each case he is giving something away. Or is he? There is no promise that he will be compensated for his sacrifice of time, family, or money, but there is a continual promise that God will renew his soul and his spirit. It is endless… So why do we hesitate to make our passions a reality? Is it because we value what will not last more than what is eternal? Is it because we have replaced what was our identity for what we think should be our identity? Is it the fear of the unknown or is it that we forgot how precious and deep and overflowing Jesus’ love really is?
I think that if we would simply obey God in the random circumstances of life we would find a world open up before us that is breathtaking because we would “see the face of God.”
Our work should not be a distraction from time with Jesus, but a reflection of our time with Him.”
I am going to venture down a road that I have really never gone before in writing these newsletters/updates. A number of people that I highly respect have encouraged and admonished me to invite people into the financial stewardship of this work/ministry. This is not about shaming or manipulating, but rather encouraging and shining a light upon what may not always be the obvious and that is the fact that there are financial needs and opportunities. My request is that you would pray. Are you willing to ask God if you should be a part of this work? Over these past 30 years there are thousands of lives locally and globally who have encountered the message of Jesus. For those outcomes to continue I would invite you to ask this question: “Jesus, would you want me to participate financially in this ministry?”
I recently spoke at The Kiwanis Good Friday Prayer Breakfast in my hometown. I would encourage you to watch.
Here is what others had to say of that time:
“Steve’s talk at the prayer breakfast was powerful and motivating. Using personal stories, he brought home his central message that we should live boldly for Jesus.” State Rep. Hans Zeiger
“Outstanding, touching, inspirational, awesome! I am so blessed to be able to know who you are and understand more of what you do.” Dr Jack Cloonan
“Great Job, Steve! Your message was Spirit led. I don’t think I have seen anyone connect so quickly with the audience. The message and love of Jesus Christ could not be missed.” Pastor Al Hoenhous
“The prayer breakfast was a great success! ‘Why tiptoe through life to arrive at death safely’ was a theme we will never forget.” Dan & Andi McClung, Kiwanis
“I didn’t want his talk to end; I wanted more.” Krista Cooly, Mortgage Professional