Friday, December 11, 2015

Motorcycle, Missions, Ministry, Miracle and Muslims

On a recent trip to the Virginia DMV to take a test for a motorcycle license I had numerous Christ centered conversations.

Going into a DMV, be prepared in prayer to overcome negative stress and be equipped with affirmative compliments for the employees.  I was impressed with the first person I met at the counter who had all the forms memorized and where one needs to fill out information.  When I complimented him, it opened up a friendly conversation.

After a short wait I then met with another person, and he took a personal interest in me.  As I affirmed his personal approach, the conversation becomes even more personal.  He asked if I still wanted to be an organ donor.  This opened the conversation to my past diagnosis of a blood cancer.  His father had died of a blood cancer in the 70’s and the conversation started to go deeper.  Somehow, his co-worker discovered I was a pastor, and asked me what church I served.  She attended a Christian church and in the process of conducting what is typically stressful business turned into missions and ministry.

I had fun with another fellow human being, who was getting their picture taken.  I joked with her, that she can’t smile, because back in September of ’09, the DMV policy was that photographs could not be smiling.  The two employees laughed and said, that policy has now changed, so together we helped the young lady take numerous smiling photos until she was content.  (I struggle with smiling in photos and the struggle continued)

While taking the test, I was mildly distracted by a neighbor who was also taking a test.  He was quietly reading the questions, and it was obvious that English was not his first language.

After getting a thumbs up from the DMV employees on passed test, I sat next to the fellow testee and asked him how he did.

In that conversation I learned he was fresh from Afghanistan where he had worked with the U.S. Govt.  It was an immediate connection, and I felt free to ask if he was a Christian.  When he said, no, he was a Muslim, the conversation remained friendly and I stated with a smile. “Now that you are in America you can choose, and I recommend choosing Christianity”.

He laughed and it was a good-humored moment and he said, this is one of the good things he likes about America is that we can joke about religion.

We exchanged numbers and agreed to continue the conversation.  He didn’t mind that I invited him to church and to continue the conversation about choosing Christianity.

Afterwards I did a little research to figure out how to talk to friendly Muslims about Christianity. (The research is from a friend who actively ministers among Muslims)

This is what I discovered.

Begin with 1 Cor. 13:4-7 to describe the God of Christianity.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Then move to John 3:16,17

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 

Then go to Acts 2:38

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Conclude with Acts 4:23-30.
23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“ ‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
26The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.’
27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

The next time I engage in conversation with a Muslim, I will be more prepared.  Until then, I remain, committed to being in stressful situations, without being stressed. (I continue to have epic fails) Meanwhile, being friendly to DMV employees and DMV fellow testees is not that hard to do within a grace based relationship with God, through Christ Jesus.

Remaining thankful, that a motorcycle can be missions and a ministry to Muslims.

The miracle is that I walked out of Fair Oaks Mall without spending any money except at the DMV.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

When Does a Child Reach the Age of Accountability?

In our particular family unit, we allowed the children/grandchildren to win games when they are very young.  However, sometime between 5ish and 8sh, we welcome them into the real world and if they win at something, it is because they actually did win.

From playing Chess, Checkers, Card Games, Running, Soccer or any kind of game, it is a fun moment in our family to see our kids/grandkids enter the age of accountability.  Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but all the time they know that it is up to them.  They reach an age when there are no more easy wins.

This past Thanksgiving, my second grand daughter and I, agreed to a friendly competitive Jumping Jacks contest.  The first round, shortly after passing 310, she dropped out at 315.  The next day, after a huge Thanksgiving meal, and before dessert, I asked her if she wanted a re-match. 

We began, and shortly after passing 400, a small crowd of family members gathered and began taking photos and helping us count.  Neither of us had ever passed into the territory of multiple hundreds of Jumping Jacks.  The land of 500, 600, and 700 was reached and crossed.  We were grinning at each other, as the family gathered and helped count.  Shortly after 800 she began to waiver and backed up a little too much and fell back on a step.  She didn’t rise, and was willing to concede, and a new Thanksgiving Tradition may have begun.

When and if she surpasses me in Jumping Jacks or any other game, she will have earned it.  It didn’t really bother her too much to lose, as she has already learned the real world of winning and losing in competitions. 

She has willingly accepted the Lordship of Christ and by all accounts has reached her age of accountability and is beginning the process of growing in her relationship with God, through Christ Jesus.  In her family unit, physical exercise and healthy living is a part of who she is becoming.  It didn’t crush her spirit to lose a spontaneous competition with her grandfather.  She is resolved to continue becoming a healthy, physically fit human being.  If a spontaneous competition arises in the future, she will most likely be the winner, and it will be a reward for reaching the age of accountability and choosing to live her life in a rewarding way.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Childlike Faith

Whatever a childlike faith is, it doesn’t require being an adult.  Being an adult with all of life’s experiences can hinder one’s faith.  Adulthood is over rated when it comes to the exercise of faith.  Adults facing death will need to adjust their faith from adult like, to childlike to experience being saved from an early death.

The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me. (Ps. 119:9)

Whatever it is, that makes faith, child like is what we need to experience.  One can grow up and develop a diminished faith. 

The sounds of exercise on a child’s playground will be filled with much different sounds than exercise by a bunch of adults in a gym.  A faith filled prayer sounds much different when given in a child like manner than one given in an adult level.

Wouldn’t it be a shame to grow up, only to realize you lost one of the most important aspects of being a human being?

It can happen, and it can happen to anyone.

Maybe consider hanging out with kids if you are sensing your faith is more adult like than childlike.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Run

Eph. 5:18Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Be filled with the Holy Spirit, is an ongoing process.  The word usage denotes an ongoing flow and could be translated, as be being filled with the Holy Spirit. 

This past Saturday, an event in the Blue Ridge Mountains between Lynchburg and Montebello, Virginia takes place.  It is called the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Run.  To run such distances a person has to have a continuous, consistent, injury free training season.  Many of the runners run 50 K’s, just as a practice run for this one.  To be being physically fit enough to start and finish a 50 mile run through the mountains helps us understand what the Apostle Paul was trying to convey to us in Ephesians.

Be being filled is not a one time experience.  Be being filled is not the equivalent of showing up once a week at a gym, and thinking that it will be adequate to prepare for a 50 mile run through the mountains.  Be being filled is the equivalent of a consistent running, exercise, stretching, routine at least 6 of the 7 days of a week for years.

I have made three attempts at the Mountain Masochist 50 Miler.  In 2006 I finished it, but was 15 minutes over the cutoff time.  In 2011 I made it halfway, but was too slow, and missed the cutoff times.  Only in 2007 was I able to finish it before the cutoff times.  What helped me finish it was all that preceded the actual race, which included 4 50K’s and a 40 Miler.  Now, I can’t even think about starting it much less finishing it because of inconsistency in running due to injuries and a long-term sinus infection.

No one needs reminding that life is full of intensity, and all of us, are to be being filled with the Holy Spirit to live an overcoming and productive life.  Humanity faces the equivalent of a 50-mile run through the mountains of Virginia on a consistent basis.

So, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit”