Oct. 23-26. Repacking after one night was easy and we headed to B’s for breakfast. Poor little M. did not want to say goodbye to G’Papa and walk to school, but we wiped the tears away and P drove her across the street instead of making her walk. Since my flight didn’t leave until 11:55 a.m., we lingered over breakfast and then P, T and B loaded me and my two bags into their car. What I did not realize was they were adding another hour so we could stop at a coffee shop near the airport and have some coffee or tea before I left. They secretly arranged for T-2 to also meet us there. Rosemary had asked if I could get some Vietnamese cinnamon which is supposedly some of the best in the world. I had failed, but T-2 was determined to find it, and find it she did! She located both hand ground and store bought. The aroma smelt so fresh and pungent. We had a delightful time together which made the next phase all the harder. Before leaving the restaurant, I asked each person to give me their most important prayer request. Each one had a very clear desire that God would lead them into a specific aspect of the Lord’s work that would accelerate the gospel and reach the unreached in Vietnam. It is rare to see such one-mindedness in the gospel. This was not rehearsed. It was on the spot! It was real!
Need I say that the airport drop was very difficult? P drove and could not linger at the curb, so he drove on, but T and B took me to security. Somehow B persuaded the guards that I needed an escort, so they allow him into the airport with me. I can’t put into words the loving, thoughtful care T provided while I was there. The tears for both of us told the story and the gratitude that went both ways. I turned to leave and could not look back until I was well past the security entrance where we waved to each other for one last time. B was so helpful at the ticket counter, making sure I would be cared for all the way to Yangon. We got within a few yards of the immigration line and B wanted one last picture of us together. He enlisted a willing stranger. The next moments were harder for him than for me because I had learned his heart, and was confident God is going to use him in a mighty way. By his own words, he felt he had gained two Paul’s in his life, and number two was now leaving. I had gained a Timothy! For those who have never been to Asian countries, please understand that it is uncommon and not part of this culture for a man to weep in public. But he held nothing back. I was thankful that security took me through the diplomat line so I would be out of sight as quickly as possible. Just as I went into the concourse, I turned to see B still peering through the glass to see me for one last time. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, that the bonds we have in Christ far surpass earthly ties!
Paul says about Timothy that "I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare" (Philippians 2:19). Is this the degree of our love and commitment to God's work in others?
Oct. 6-10, 2014. I planned to print our Brochure, Letter of Introduction, Instructions for completing GPHC while I had a day at BCGH, but since it was Sunday, businesses were closed and the cheap print shop we used before had moved to an unknown location. So when I took the taxi down to the Holiday Inn about two miles away, my first job was to find a print shop. While I checked in, I asked where I could find one, and was directed down the main street outside the hotel and told to turn left at an alley. Heading in the direction I was instructed to take, quickly reminded me that sometimes it is best to ask multiple persons for directions and see which ones agree and they will probably be the best. Finding the right alley also made a world of difference in the surroundings. There were upscale shops and business, and among them a very good print shop that knew exactly what I needed, but could not do all the printing until 9 a.m. the next morning. I learned from the registration table that my presentation of God’s Plan for His Church would not take place until Wednesday. Waiting until the morning to pick up my print job was OK.
Eleven cases of manuals had been shipped from New Delhi, India where we had them printed (cheaper than in the USA). Four of these cases were brought to BCGH and I took them to the Holiday Inn where a long table was set up and I displayed the manuals, brochures, letter and instructions. I also put a small sign on the table; “Books are Free”. This was quite a draw because all the other displays from other ministries had price tags. There is a very powerful draw to persons when we offer the gospel and God’s truth free of charge – a Pauline model. More about the effect of this principle will be said in another paragraph.
The conference consisted of around ninety people involved in reaching Vietnamese through various ministries and missionaries. Each day began with worship led by a local pastor of an international church in Bangkok. Much of the first afternoon (the conference started at 1 p.m. on Monday) was used to describe Synergy, its purpose, goals and present endeavors. Key speakers presented current efforts to spread the gospel and plant churches among the Vietnamese. When we use that people group designation, we often think solely of Vietnam, forgetting that there are displaced Vietnamese in Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, the USA and other countries as well. You will understand the significance of this shortly. I was given two slots Wednesday morning to present God’s Plan for His Church at which I used a PowerPoint presentation that I modified for the occasion. Through Monday afternoon and Tuesday, several had spoken to me about the manual, but the interest seemed very ho hum. During these two days I tried to build relationships by showing more of an interest in others and what they were seeking to accomplish for the Lord than trying to promote NFI (New Foundations International---our new name).
Then came Wednesday! While there were four presentations in different rooms simultaneously, my senses told me that the attendance at GPHC would be very small. The first session started with only three or four people and grew to twelve in attendance. Though I felt very nervous in the three minute teaser on Tuesday, I knew the Lord was giving freedom in the Spirit as I went through the PowerPoint slides and I saw faces change. At the end of the first session, questions and comments were flowing very freely. In the second session, eighteen attended and one or two repeat attendees who wanted to hear it again. From this point in the conference, things changed dramatically. There was hardly a coffee/tea break where someone didn’t want to speak to me about the manual and learn more about how it could be used in their venue. One brother who works with the Vietnamese in Malaysia began sitting at my table every session through the rest of the week because he had so many questions and his vision for using GPHC was growing rapidly. To prove this point, he took a whole case of 44 manuals back to Malaysia wanting to train leaders in the church there so that churches would multiply among the Vietnamese. This same brother is fluent in Mandarin and wants the manual translated into that language as soon as possible so it can be used in China and with the Chinese churches in other S. E. Asia countries. Others were asking if they could take more than one manual back with them to which I heartily said yes.
There is far too much detail in the various conversations that came from this conference to repeat here, but I think you get a sense of what God was doing. Often our minds wonder where all the resources will come from to supply the printing in these different places. The more I see God working in ways like this the more my confidence in Him grows; that He will supply what is needed through His people at the right time. Where it will all lead is up to the Lord. I have a huge task of responding to requests for the Vietnamese manual and follow-up questions, but it is evident that God used this opportunity to open new doors.
Just yesterday I was looking at Jesus' words in Luke 4:
“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place (see also Mk. 1:35). And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42–44).
I see four principles in these verses that marked the Lord's life and was continued by the apostles.
In Jeremiah 18:1-10; Romans 9:19-24; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, God uses the analogy of clay in the Potter’s hand to illustrate how He wants to mold and shape us according to His design and purpose. One of the most importance elements in keeping the clay flexible in the Potter’s hand is water (the Holy Spirit). Without continual application of the Holy Spirit to our lives, we will become brittle and resist God’s shaping hand on us.
A lump of clay that refuses to be softened by water (the Holy Spirit) will become useless and perhaps even rejected as a vessel "honorable...set apart as holy, useful for the master" (2 Timothy 2:21). Read also 1 Corinthians 9:27.
Why are we so willing to accept something less, a lower standard, or a different method than what God has held up in His word? Why are we so quick to proclaim ourselves as the “cutting edge” in ministry, but unwilling to humbly acknowledge how far short we fall from God’s design as He gave it to us in Scripture? Every decision we make in life and ministry will either reflect and give glory to God or will detract in some way from it!
a. What brings about change and a desire to return to God’s plan? We must open our hearts to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and this will result in immediate REPENTANCE! How does this happen?
i. God’s Word becomes a mirror (James 1:22-25), reflecting a clear comparison between God’s plan and purpose for my life, marriage, family and church, with what the facts really are.
ii. God’s Word is like fire and a hammer (Jer. 23:28-29) that burns up what is useless to God and breaks what is hard, stubborn and resistant to the Spirit.
iii. God’s Word is like water (Eph. 5:25-27). The more I take it in the more it cleanses from the inside out.
iv. God’s Word is “perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7). There is always hope when I apply God’s perfect Word to myself and my situation.
b. If true repentance takes place, what can you and I expect? “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19–20, ESV). If you have never experienced sweet fellowship with the Lord, this is the path where it begins.
Let the Word of God change us so we become better reflectors!
Dear Servants of our Lord,
Last month I wrote to you with a desire that we understand what it means to be a "true servant". We noted that one of the key characteristics of a servant is that he is with the Master "where His is" (John 5:19-20). I wanted this time to look at one of the changes that takes place as we are walking, working, living in close relationship with the Lord.
It is the continual process of reducing. There is this subtle idea that keeps suggesting that once we have a Bible college or seminary degree, a title before or after our name, a congregation to pastor, or any other distinction that makes us feel "we have arrived", there is no longer any need for radical changes. A couple examples will prove this idea very false.
John the Baptist spent very little time physically with Jesus, but he knew there was one essential to being an effective servant of Jesus; "He (Jesus)must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). I am very challenged with the thought that I must be continually getting smaller. Everything around me, including those I respect in the body of Christ, tend to feed my pride rather than help my humility. If we are not very serious about this issue, we will hinder the very work that God wants to do in and through us and that we have set our hearts and live to accomplish.
Paul knew this truth. Even though he had ask the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh, he also knew that the Lord did not remove it to keep Paul "from becoming conceited" (2 Cor. 12:1-10). But there was another reason. The Lord's sufficient grace for Paul's weakness would make way for God's power to be revealed. In many respects I think we have become comfortable with a powerless life and ministry. In fact, I feel for myself that I have become too comfortable without the Spirit's power. I really don't know what His power looks like if it was released. I cannot live that way any more!
Will you join me in asking the Holy Spirit to teach us how to become small, weak in ourselves, and ready for the power of God the Holy Spirit. We must learn to be comfortable with being nothing so that Christ can be everything! This is the path to fruitful ministry.
Link To Our Old Blog: