People are just people – 11/8/12

As we got into the teaching time with the students, you could sense their excitement in having new people come to share with them. As I looked around the room, all of them had their bibles out and were on the front edge of their seats and all eyes looking forward. Initially I was nervous as I opened up our study time but that quickly vanished as we read some scripture and I begin speaking about what we had just read. It was such a pleasure to be up in front of these guys as you could just tell they were trying to soak up every word and being very attentive. With this group it was very easy to stand and speak about the things of God.

After my piece, I turned it over to Jimmie and he led the rest of our study time and truly did a phenomenal job in the short time he had to extol his wisdom. Faith Bradbury joined Jimmie for a short segment and talked to the kids about different ways to share the story of Jesus. As she was leading this time, you could see the kids really come to life as this is what is near and dear to all of them. Unlike most Christians that I know here in the states and including myself, we don’t always seem to have the same drive, desire to tell others about the good news of Christ.

When you talk to these kids, there is a common thread intertwined within each of them. Although each have experienced turbulent childhoods they choose not to dwell there. When you talk to them individually, you can see that most of them come from a very dark time in their past – it’s in their eyes, their voice and you can just feel it but then, like a switch, as they begin talking about God, Jesus and Bridge 4 Hope, you see all the darkness, the pain just fade away and you realize there is an entirely different person standing in front of you.

This is what they haven’t forgotten – that when all seemed hopeless or that no one seemed to care, they were able to find hope and know that someone did love and care about them through Jesus Christ. And they understand, that there are countless others within their family, community, Cape Town, and across the world that feel the same way they did, so they take every opportunity that comes to tell others about Christ. They live Matthew 28:18-20 as they go about their daily routine of life.

After lunch, we all gathered back in the classroom to get our assignments from Asanda before heading out into the community to talk, listen, pray and tell others about Jesus. The excitement expressed by everyone was palpable as their was an expectation that good things were about to happen. My partners were two of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met – Abongile and Bomikazi. I was about to learn a lesson in what trust, courage and boldness really looks like and see, for the first time in a long time, how God can change lives if we would just be willing to live Matthew 28:18-20.

Going door to door is so far out of my comfort zone and is something I have rarely taken part in when given the chance in the past. As we walked to the community I was reminded of my prayer, that I would be open to follow and commit to whatever God wanted me to do, so here it is, something I wouldn’t choose to do but hey, were here, so let’s do this. As we approached the first house, I realized that I wasn’t really nervous, I was curious to see what would unfold. AB and Bom showed no nervousness, fear or even apprehension as they stuck their head in the first door and asked if it was ok to come in.

As I watched Bom engage the young lady in conversation, I was struck by the confidence she had and then noticed that AB was right behind her looking just as confident and ready to speak if need be. No tracks, no phamplets, just two people wanting to share a conversation with the folks they had just met. Although they were speaking in a language unfamiliar to me, I was amazed at how much of the conversation I was able to follow. As the conversation was winding down, AB asked a simple question – “do you know about Jesus?”. And although they said they did, they didn’t want to talk about it so Bom asked if it would be ok if we prayed for them and if there was anything specific we could pray for on their behalf.

I watched in amazement as house after house, these two ladies would engage the people in conversation and as they talked with them, I was able to watch their faces and noticed how intently focused they were on the task at hand. Nothing else mattered except what was before them and the desire they had to help people make a connection to Jesus.

Making our way from house to house, God was impressing on me on just how beautiful His creation of people truly is. 4 weeks later and I can still recall each and everyone that I met that afternoon. Seeing people through God’s eyes means that you see them through LOVE! And as I met these wonderful people, I saw beauty in each of them and my sole desire for each of them was that they would be open to hear about Christ and to know that He truly is somebody that loves and cares about them.

For AB and Bom, they had no idea of the impact they made on my life that day. They reminded me that day that I have no excuses for not sharing my story of what Christ has done in my life. To see how boldly, and courageously these young women were at their sharing their faith, renewed a sense of urgency within me and empowered me to know that God is faithful and that His word never returns void.

Not sure if I have 1 or 2 more posts left about our trip to South Africa but will definitely wrap up by week’s end.

Getting Excited

so, 4 days and counting! To say I am getting excited about the upcoming trip to South Africa is an understatement to say the least. Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jimmie Warren as we began discussing what topics we wanted to cover next week during our time to teach at the Bridge 4 Hope center. They offer various programs for their students and one of these is called EPIC.  Their current group of students going through this will actually graduate on the Monday right before we leave to come back home. It will be such a great honor to see their ceremony and then to be able to watch how God uses them in the years to come.

Our team, which I am so grateful to be a part of,  will have the opportunity to take part in teaching these students over a two day period next Thursday and Friday at the Bridge4Hope campus. On Thursday, we are going to cover evangelism, studying techniques, leadership and other topics as well as giving our personal testimonies. And then on Friday, we will split the students up as Jimmie and I will teach the young men on being Godly men of Christ while Faith and Mandy will teach the young ladies about prayer and faith.

Jimmie and I are going use an outline developed from a recent study that we both had the opportunity to teach at our Sugar Hill Church called Kingdom Man that Dr. Tony Evans put together. Not sure if we can cover everything as the study is so rich with scripture, stories and practical application but I pray that however much we are able to give them, would be something that are to build on for a lifetime!! I am just amazed and humbled that God would allow us the opportunity to travel half way around the world and teach young people for two days as they near completing their program!

Jimmie will also have the privilege of preaching on Sunday the 11th while were there. I am excited for him and can’t wait to be part of that service with what I am sure will be a host new life-long friends! And really, as I think about it, it is really cool that we will get the chance to meet a lot of our brothers and sisters in Christ as a result of this trip! I think it’s easy to forget that for those of us who are Christ followers, that we have this huge family of brothers and sisters in our neighborhood, community, state, country and around the world. Would the world be a different place if we, believers, would treat each other like family? I’d like to think so! Anyway, sorry about that as I have strayed off topic.

While I’m thinking about it, thanks to all you for your prayers for me and our team as we prepare to leave and hope you will continue to pray for us when we are there. I would also like to publicly thank those who have given financial support to help make this trip possible.

I’m reminded of a couple of verses from 1 Peter 4:7-11  – The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

Peace and thanks for reading!!

 

Knowing God – Evidence of Knowing God

What are some other evidences in my life that point to me knowing God? As we continue in Chapter 2, Packer lists 4 examples of how we can see evidence of someone actively knowing God.

1. Those who know God have great energy for God. This is so true as I look at the people I have known over the years who were actively knowing God. They seem to have a never ending supply of energy in serving others or taking part in anything related to doing “God’s work”. As I look at my own life I realize that the same holds true for me. When I am truly in God’s will, seeking His path for my life and taking part in serving others, I am always amazed by the energy I have. I can be tired from the week but given an opportunity to do something for God and I am ready to go with renewed strength and energy. Knowing this, how is it so easy for me to forget this! Selfishness if I am honest with myself; making it about me and what I want to do or not do as the case may be! and it’s easy to think about serving others as I look at this energy thing but it’s more than that – prayer, study, meditation, are other things that are easier when in God’s will. It feeds off itself. You study, you learn more about God, pray for wisdom to learn how to apply what you have learned to your life, then meditate on these things allowing God to speak to you and then live it.

2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God. Ask most Christians and they will tell you how great God is but look at their lives and they don’t live like they believe God is great. Packer uses the story of Daniel to illustrate these 4 points. Daniel knew his God was Great!! He had a great energy for God and he had great thoughts of God as well. Packer points out that history of the world is nothing more than “His-story” (God’s Story), eternal plan unfolding over the course of time and when all is said and done, it will be God’s kingdom that will triumph in the end. This truth is scattered all throughout the book of Daniel. In knowing this, do we as Christians live this truth in our thought life? Would others describe us as having great thoughts of God?  I challenge you to read Daniel 2:20-22 and understand that this a prayer being offered by Daniel. What do our prayers sound like? And then in Daniel 9, read verses 4, 7, 9 and 14. Daniel had great thoughts of God, not just when in trouble but always.

3. Those who know God show great boldness for God. How bold have I ever been for God? how bold have you been for God? I promise you, I have never been faced with anything like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were. Or how about the young lady at Columbine High School. With a gun to her head, the shooter asked her to denounce Christ and she would live. She chose Christ and was present with Him shortly after doing so. To have that kind of boldness, Lord, that is my prayer, right here, right now! That no matter what I may face, I would be bold to stand for you no matter the outcome!! I have nothing left for this point. May God strengthen us to be bold in all facets of our lives that others may see Him in us!!

4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.  Packer states “There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death and on forever. ” As I read and think about this statement, I find myself thinking of Tim Tebow and the incredible testimony he is living out for ALL the world to see.  Doesn’t he seem at great peace with everything going on around him. He doesn’t seem at all phased by all the hoopla going on around him. He just keeps going about his business and don’t miss this – Tebow’s business is living in God’s will.

Couple of things as I wrap up this post. I think number is 4 is huge for me personally for when I am contented with God, the rest of my life seems to be in balance. Not that things are perfect but that I have a peace about life. I belong to Him, and He is free to do with me whatever He will. My desire is to live a long life that I may see my kids and grand kids grow as old as me while Lisa and I spend our days on a sunny beach somewhere. That may not be God’s plan for my life. So my prayer for myself is that I can live the rest of my days living by these 4 principles.

Peace and thanks for reading!