Monday, September 17, 2012

Stepping Out In Faith

Last month, I shared a post from Gary Wilkerson titled "Overcome Your Fear of Faith", in which he talked about his calling to plant a church in London. I want to share part 2 of his story. Remember that God has everything in control!

Gary Wilkerson -
"A short time ago I shared the first part of the story of when the Lord led my wife and me to London to plant a church. When we thought we might have to cancel our plans because we had nowhere to live, God miraculously provided a home through a businessman we met while on a missions trip to South Africa.

We had thought there was no hope, that we were not going to be able to make it and we would have to cancel our plans. But then we met this businessman. Only our God could orchestrate it so that a couple from New York would go to South Africa to find a place to live in London.

We moved to London and a few days after we arrived I took my son to a park near the house we were living in. As I pushed him on the swing set, I prayed, “Lord, You called us here to plant a church. Thank You for the house but I don’t know anybody here and I don’t know where to start the church.”

An older man walked up to the swings with his granddaughter. He turned to me, introduced himself, and asked me what I was doing in London.

“I’m a pastor,” I responded, “and we’re here to start a church.”

“I’m a pastor, too, and that’s my church,” he said, pointing to a beautiful, big church down the street named Holy Trinity Brompton.

I told him the story of Teen Challenge and Times Square Church and what we were now doing. The pastor invited me to his home later for tea and as we visited, he said, “I’ve been praying all afternoon and the Holy Spirit has put this strongly on my heart. We have a coffeehouse in an area where young people are into drugs and the party scene, and they are coming to Christ but there is no church. We have been praying that we could plant a church there but we have no pastor. Would you be willing to help us start this church? And would you be its pastor?”

I had been worried, but God had everything under control! The truth is, if we do not step out in faith, if we are not willing to risk, we will miss God’s best."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trusting in God – Too Risky?

I have discovered that it is very easy for me to read books and get excited at the challenges the authors give me for living out my life wholly for Christ. And, it is easy for me to relay those messages to you through this blog. But truth is trusting anything or anyone, especially God, is incredibly risky. In fact, if there is no risk then it’s not really trusting, is it? It’s hard to trust God because he’s risky. You take the risk that he’s not real. But since he is real, you take the risk of him not hearing you, you take the risk of him saying “no”, you take the risk of him not feeling close, you take the risk of his discipline, you take  the risk of him not meeting whatever expectations you may have. You take the risk of going through some hard times for his glory. It is all of these risks that actually make trusting possible!
I know that I cannot simply say, “Trust in God.” Trusting in God is gained through daily devotion and dedication to him. You have to be intentional about trusting God. You have to risk something, some security, some comfort in order to trust in anything. Trusting God requires some sort of risk you are willing to take. You trust each day by facing those risks and making a choice each day to say, “Today, I am going to trust God in this situation.  I will pray in the midst of my pain. I will tell God I am scared and lonely, because that is honest and I know he hears me. I will believe that God is sovereign.”
For as long as I can remember now, I have worked hard to help provide financial stability for my family. My husband is self employed, so we have relied on my stable income as well as the health benefits it has provided. Together, we have pursued the many material possessions that we have wanted. I’m sure we are only half way through our list of many wants. We have been living the American dream. The thought of changing the comfortable life we have created for ourselves has never been considered…until now.
It’s nice being comfortable, but knowing what more I can be doing with my life for God has made me very uncomfortable. We have the means to make a change, but we have found every excuse not to. While I may not be ready to shout out to the world the changes we are considering, I will say that it is a risky move. There are times when I feel like I am having panic attacks over it, but there is always something that reminds me that God is in control. What excites me the most are the many possibilities that my family will have to further his kingdom.
God’s favor comes when we trust Him wholly, without reservations and doubts.  His rescue arrives when we stop doing our own ways. His blessings overflow when we put our full confidence in Him. It’s been a long time coming, but I am finally ready to start living out these words instead of just writing them. I am choosing to trust God in this situation! I pray that wherever you are in life, you will take the risk of trusting in him, too!

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” – Psalm 9:10

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

If You Believe...

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” - John 11:40
When Lazarus became sick, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus. But instead of coming right away, Jesus stayed where he was for two more days. During that time Lazarus died and was laid in the tomb for four days before Jesus came. Martha said to Jesus, “If you would have been here, my brother would not have died!” Her faith had a limit. She could not see beyond the grave! But Jesus did raise Lazarus from the dead in spite of her unbelief. He had delayed coming for one purpose, so that she and the others would believe and see the glory of God.
Why did God part the Red Sea? Why did Joshua and Israel march around Jericho? Why was Daniel thrown into the lion’s Den? For His glory!
We have been talking about overcoming our fear of faith and the mighty power of God. Whatever you are facing right now, He is going to bring forth life in that situation. And although it may seem like He is delaying His answer, He has a purpose – for you to believe and to see His glory.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Compassion Moves Us

Why does it seem that everybody is willing to pray but few are willing to act?

I recently heard a pastor ask what would have happened if Jesus had been hindered by our modern thinking. More than likely his disciples would have gathered for a committee meeting to examine the problems and talk about the sins that brought the people to such a place and say, “Oh how tragic!”

But according to Matthew 9, when Jesus saw the people, He was moved with compassion. He saw them scattered and weary like sheep with no shepherd and He was stirred to action. The compassion was not just about pity or sympathy. It was also filled with the desire to help change things. If we have true compassion, it will drive us to do something!

Matthew 25:42-46 says, For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

We do not have to travel far to show compassion on God’s people. God says that if we will give our bread to the hungry, bring the poor into our house, and give of our own soul to the starving and suffering, He will lead us and provide for us continually. “We will be like a well-watered garden a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:10-11).                                            

As followers of Christ, we should be apart of His compassionate heart to the world. The needs are at your doorstep, so present yourself to the Lord, and He will open doors for you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Overcome Your Fear of Faith

Today’s post comes from Gary Wilkerson, son of the late David Wilkerson. I wanted to post this one because of what he says about missing out on certain things because we are afraid to risk the faith. Remember that God’s great power is superior to ours! We can trust that He will always make a way!

“People experience a broad spectrum of fears. Psychologists say that almost everyone has a fear of death; others fear being alone, while many are afraid of being in crowds. Public speaking is another common source of fear.

Some of us miss out on the greatest gifts in life because of fear. God wants to birth certain things in your heart and you miss out on them because you are afraid to risk the faith necessary to get involved in what God has.

A number of years ago my wife and I were living in New York City and working with Times Square Church. The Lord clearly spoke to our hearts about planting a church in London, England. It was a big risk and rather scary. We did not have many resources and knew very few people in England, but we were committed to trusting God.

A place to live in London had been made available to us but just a few weeks before we were due to leave, the plans for that home fell apart. What were we going to do?

We were scheduled to spend two weeks in South Africa leading a group on a short-term missions trip before going on to England to live. While there my wife and I stayed in the home of a South African businessman. One morning the man asked me, “Are you okay?” I responded, “I’m kind of worried about something.” Then I told him about our plan to move to London and shared that we did not have a place to live.

“I love London and, as a matter of fact, I own a house there,” the businessman shared. Then a few days later he said to me, “Here are the keys to my house. It’s yours to use whenever you need it.”

I was concerned that we were going to have to cancel our plans but God was there! A couple from New York had to go to South Africa to find a home in London. Only God can orchestrate something like that!

I believe God sets us up to do things that seem difficult at the time but wind up being a God-story. After something like that happens, you walk around with confidence and boldness in your heart, knowing that God will provide.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

His Mighty Power

Yesterday, I shared two stories with you - one that many of us can relate to; the other from a world we no little about. The more I have learned about those sacrificing everything day in and day out in the name of Jesus, the more I understand that it is because they completely trust in the power of His Name. So, my question for you is whether or not you trust in His power?

The problem that we face in our culture is that we are told to trust in our own power. We can accomplish whatever we set out to do! Hard work, high aspirations, and the freedom to go after our goals is what the American dream is all about! There is nothing wrong with the American dream, but it is the notion that we accomplish all of these things on our own ability that is the issue. This is completely different from how Jesus calls us to live. God’s Word says we must die to ourselves, believe in the Lord our God, and trust in His mighty power.

God alone is worthy of our trust. If you question His worthiness of your confidence and trust, then you are simply not putting your "trust under the shadow of His wings" (Psalm 36:7). The follower of Christ does not ask why he should trust God; instead, he asks, "How can I trust God more fully?”

When we realize that God has all power to do anything He wants and that He always uses it for our good, then we can have absolute confidence that we are in good hands. Apart from Him, we cannot accomplish anything of value. He tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit; apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
I want to end with a piece from David Platt’s book, “Radical”, after he just finished talking about the church in Acts. Here he describes how he longs for that kind of church today – “A scene where we refuse to operate in a mind-set dominated by an American dream that depends on what we can achieve with our own abilities. A scene where we no longer settle for what we can do in our own power. A scene where the church radically trusts in God’s great power to provide unlikely people with unlimited, unforeseen, uninhibited resources to make his name known as great. I want to be a part of that dream.”
His power is so superior to ours! Why do we not desperately seek it?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sunday Morning...

The rain patted softly against the window as the morning light started to make its way through the curtains. Tucked away under the covers, she laid there thinking about the chores that she had yet to do that weekend. The children were still sleeping after staying up late the night before to watch their favorite Disney movie, and her husband still snored softly next to her. She knew that the time had passed to make it to church on time, but she thought to herself that they would try again the following Sunday. Hopefully, she could find time today for her and the family to sit down together to spend time in God’s Word.

The sun had not yet risen as she snuck out of her home that morning. The temperature was just below freezing and the garments that clung to her body barely kept her warm. She pulled the wrap over her head in hopes that anyone walking about would not notice her. News had spread quickly that the week before a man, a husband and father, was arrested and tortured for holding a secret meeting in his home. She walked the two mile journey until she came to a few run down buildings at the edge of town. She looked around to make sure no one was watching her and quickly made her way to the back door. An older man greeted her kindly as she made her way into the small, barely lit room. Twenty others had already gathered on the dusty floor and were waiting quietly for the man to start speaking. The man, a missionary, had already been with them for two weeks. He had made his way through the Old Testament, and with much pleading from the people, he stayed another week to teach them the New Testament. Ten hours of every day they had listened intently soaking up the Word of God. The more they learned the hungrier they were for Him.

While no names have been added, both are based on true stories. My name should have been added to the first one. 2 Corinthians 4:4, “We can’t even see Christ because of the depth of our spiritual blindness.” Where do you fit in the story? We have the freedom to seek God’s Word, but do we have the same desire as those who do not have that freedom?

I pray that God will awaken in our hearts a deep and unshakeable passion for the gospel and the revelation of God’s Word!