Archive for January, 2013


Laila and Claire having funIs it age, nostalgia or wisdom that causes us to see what others take for granted? At times I find myself standing on a precipice and seeing across time even when in simple situations. Part of that is a growing awareness of how God interweaves our lives to accomplish His purpose. Especially lives that on the surface don’t appear to be connected. One such moment happened this weekend, when my son and his family came to visit from Alexandria, VA. There were several times when we got all the kids and grandkids together, and the gatherings were great and enjoyable. It had been a year since Ben and his family had been in Kansas City. I must be honest, nine young grandkids can be chaotic. They yank so hard at your attention.

We had several gatherings, but one thing was clear, our family of six kids and four spouses and nine grandkids enjoy spending time together. They visit, talk, communicate and play. They care for one another. I am proud of that, for I have seen far too many broken families.

Grandkids playingAlthough my attention was on my family this weekend, especially my grand children, at one point I found myself standing on that precipice of time again. Oddly enough it was because of my grandchildren.  In the picture you see 4-year-old Laila having a simple conversation with 5-year-old cousin Claire. They were simply sitting on the steps of Tonya’s home having a great time, enjoying the 74 degree weather in January! To them it was a moment that quickly passed, soon forgotten. Their mother’s were watching with joyful hearts, and to them it was a warm but fleeting moment. I saw something entirely different, for God had transported my mind to that precipice again, the one with His view, His Eternal View.

My Dad enjoying his grandkids

My Dad enjoying his grandkids

Unknown to my family visiting and having fun around me, I was transported back to a day in March 1995. It was Sunday, March 26th, and the weather was warm and sunny like it was for Laila and Claire. Instead of this home being Tonya’s and her husband Ben, it was where our entire family lived. Tonya and Ben were high school sweethearts. There were no grandchildren yet. We were coming home after church. When we drove into our driveway, we saw my brother Tim sitting on those same steps. He wasn’t laughing. His face was red. His expression made my stomach sicken. I knew something was wrong. I jumped from our Van and Tim cried out “He’s dead! Dad’s dead!” Time came to a screeching halt. Even now the tears flow from my eyes.

Laila and Claire on the painful porchThere Laila and Claire sat, oblivious to the eternal power of their great-grandparents prayers, oblivious to that painful moment that rocked my world 17 years ago at this very spot. They may not realize it now, but they will. God holds them in His hand. They are His, and they will come to know Him as their Creator God. This will happen not because of any special talent or ability they may have. This will happen simply because God takes His possessions seriously. And my parents gave my grandchildren to God. They dedicated them to Him, even though they never got to see them. My wife and I continue in those very prayers. And now, we kneel on that same precipice, and pray for that same Godly Heritage.

Our Eternal Connection

My grandchildren are connected across eternity with Jim and Clare Tompkins. Their children will share the same connection. One day my children will recall my prayers for their children and grandchildren. And so God will continue His work, His Will on earth, because my Dad and Mom took His Word seriously, and prayed that His will would be done in their family, just as His will is done in heaven.

One day, perhaps soon, I will stand with my parents and see how God’s grace has worked and is working in our family. I will know how God works through our prayers and concerns. I will fully understand the importance of a Godly Heritage. And my prayer today is that my children and grandchildren will take my place on that precipice of eternity, the unseen precipice that only those who see with the eyes of the Holy Spirit can stand and kneel upon. For when you stand there, seeing as God sees, you pray!

Joseph Could See that which was Eternal

fruitful bough conquers the wallGod described Joseph as a fruitful “bough” in Genesis 49:22. The Hebrew is actually “ben” or son, but the context caused the translators to use the word “bough” as in a plant.

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. Genesis 49:22

However, I believe God wants us to realize that, as His Sons, we are plants, and our children and grand children are branches. They are connected to us in a real sense, an eternal sense. When we see our connectedness, we will see the need to pray far into the future. For only as we grow strong through our connectedness will we be able to climb the wall, or as I see it, overcome barriers and enemies. This is what Joseph experienced.

The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. Genesis 49:23-25

Joseph was a dreamer, a man who saw things that others did not. His brothers treated him cruelly, and his response was “what you meant for evil, God meant for God!” Joseph knew that precipice, stood with a view to eternity. Joseph survived all those hardships because he could see his connectedness with his family and with God’s purpose. Do you? Do you live with a view of eternity? Are you afraid to stand on that precipice of time and see your connectedness? Do not go there if you see no value in prayer.

As I talked with my kids on that painful porch, we recounted the neighbors that had died while we lived there. One troubled teen had perished in a car crash as he was fleeing the police. That family later moved away, broken and defeated, the parents later divorcing. Another neighbor, a father experiencing tremendous back pain from repeated operations, took his own life. Years later, his son committed suicide as well.

praying on the precipice of eternityTragedy happens in our lives, in our families. It happened in Joseph’s life and among his family. How your family handles that tragedy will depend upon whether you see the God who controls the precipice of eternity, whether you are willing to see your life from His point of view. He who overcomes the wall and stands firm to the end is the one who sees the connectedness of family, even those you will never see. You must be willing to kneel on that precipice of eternity before the throne of the one who holds eternity in His hands.

Will your family be a fruitful bough? Will your family grow into a Godly Heritage? Are you able to SEE Him who is invisible? He stand firm to the end who can SEE!

For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Psalm 61:5 


As I look ahead to 2013, I was reminded of something I wrote in March of 2011:

Will You Go Outside the Camp?

My question is, if Christ delays his return another two hundred years – a mere fraction of a day in his reckoning – which of you will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those 3,500 peoples who are in the same condition today that the Karen and Chin and Kachins and Burmese were in 1813? Who will labor so long and so hard and so perseveringly that in two hundred years there will be two million Christians in many of the 10/40-window peoples who can scarcely recall their Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist roots?

May God use his powerful word and the life of Adoniram Judson to stir many of you to give your lives to this great cause!

We must keep advancing to Him, to His altar which is outside the camp!

self interest christianity The entire essay is here

Too Much Self-Interest

It was that essay which worked in me a desire for real growth among the Christians I Pastor and minister to. I see too much self-interest among the Christians of America. Ministries are self-focused. Growth is selective and selfish. Even our attempts to “sacrifice for the sake of Christ” are mis-guided trips of self-piety. We have so much, that our ide of sacrifice means an entirely different thing than to Christian refugees in Africa (for example). Sacrifice to many in the world is not “sacrifice,” it is the way they live. Running water? Nice carpet in the house? No, they are used to getting their water from a well or a pump station. Their floors are compacted dirt. They aren’t sacrificing, they are living! This brings me to consider what true ministry should involve, what my ministry should be in 2013.

Paul’s Philosophy of Ministry

what-are-you-willing-to-sacrificeAs I look toward 2013, I am reminded of Paul’s philosophy of ministry. In 2 Corinthians 12:15 he states: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” Paul never considered how His message was going to affect the big givers, the successful businessmen, or the rich widows. He never worried about tweaking his ministry to achieve maximum community impact. His ministry was all about wasting himself for the souls of others. Paul gave and gave and gave for the souls of those he ministered to. He did not consider his income requirements, mileage reimbursements or housing allowance. He did not worry about funding for his missionary trips. He was not on the look out for a larger church where he could have a more visible ministry.

The Budget of the Empty Pocket

spend and be spentPaul was always on the lookout for ways in which he could use his talents and resources to save and build up the souls of others. Cost was no object. Inconvenience, sickness, lack of sleep, imprisonment, whatever the cost, Paul could not wait to pay it! The only budget that Paul knew was that of his empty pocket. If he still had money in it, he had not done enough. When it came to Paul’s philosophy of ministry, it was nothing about his interests or comfort. He held on to nothing and held nothing back. He gave everything up! He continued to explain in 2 Corinthians 12:19: “it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking (ministering) in Christ, and all for your up-building, beloved.”

Ministry is Not a “Sacrifice…”

adoniram-judson-missionary-1-GoodSalt-prcas4999Men like Adoniram Judson and the Apostle Paul did not consider their ministry a “sacrifice.” They did not go on missionary trips so they could learn to appreciate what they had, or experience what the world was like. Their ministry simply reflected their love for Jesus and love for the souls of men.

If you think Ministry is a “Sacrifice”, you haven’t been ministering

The world looks at their lives and says “what a waste!” They looked back on their lives and thought, “I wish I could have given more!” When you get to the place where your life no longer matters, then and only then are you really able to minister to others in the Power of Jesus Christ. If you are still thinking “O what a sacrifice this is,” you haven’t really been ministering to others. You have simply been pleasing yourself. There is no sacrifice to the one who has experienced the crucifixion of the Cross. One who has been crucified for Christ is dead. This life and it’s comforts no longer matter. There is only the desire to reach the souls of people who are perishing or struggling with life. One who has been crucified keeps his eyes on the Savior, for nothing else matters. What worse can happen? Jesus spent everything, so why should we hold on to anything?

Hannah Discovered True Worship

Hannah-prayerHannah had prayed and stressed about having her own baby for years. God finally gave her a baby boy, Samuel. She could now hold in her arms her own baby boy. He was the realization of every longing of her heart and soul. How she held him tight to her breast. As he toddled about, what joy she felt as he grew and explored. When he first said “mommy!” her heart melted! Yet Hannah did the inconceivable. She gave her little boy Samuel to the Lord. No longer would she tuck him in at night. No longer would he call for her when a storm woke him up. She took him to the Temple to be raised by the High Priest. He was only 3 or 4, freshly weaned. I can see the tears pouring down her face as she walked away, hearing the cries of her baby boy, seeing his outstretched arms as he cried out “Mommy, Mommy!”

hannah-6hanna mother childWas this a sacrifice for Hannah? No! This was her simple worship to God. For 1 Samuel 1:28 says “and they worshiped the Lord there.” Instead of sorrowing over her brave “sacrifice,” Hannah worshiped God! Only when our dearest possession can be freely given to God without thought of the sacrifice or loss will we know True WORSHIP! Worship always follows in the shadow of the Cross! At the Cross God is All and in all! When we are crucified at the Cross of Christ, all that we hold dear falls from our hands, and our focus turns to God! That is true Worship! True Worship leads us to spend and be spent on behalf of the souls of others!

There is no more thought of sacrifice, for we have already given everything up to God at the Cross!spend and be spent selfless service