Fly Safely With A Good Maintenance Program

Last week our training center in Trinidad needed an instructor for a class this week in Suriname, South America. One of our instructors out of the Rocky Mountain region offered to go teach the class. In looking at flight arrangements, he looked at flying on a particular South American airline. Our manager in Trinidad responded quickly and strongly recommended not to fly on that airline. Our manager was a commercial airline pilot and still maintains his commercial license. His reason for not booking our instructor on that particular airline was based on safety and maintenance. He said that particular airline’s maintenance program was poor, and he does not consider their planes safe to fly.

How is the maintenance plan in your life, the plane you are flying? Do you have a regularly scheduled maintenance program? Do you have a time each day that you have set aside to renew your mind by spending time in God’s word, reading and meditating and allowing it to transform your life? Do you schedule time for prayer, where you listen to God and also share your heart with Him? What about the key relationships in your life? Do you schedule time to maintain and cultivate those relationships? If you are married, do you schedule time for dates? Do you set aside time to regularly share your hearts and to listen to one another? Karen and I had a wonderful time together yesterday on our date. We shared a meal together at Sadie’s Mexican restaurant, and more importantly, we shared our lives. We shared our joys, our struggles, our desires, and our hearts. These maintenance times are enriching, and I am more in love now than I was forty years ago when I married the bride of my youth.

As we approach a new year, think about your maintenance program for 2018. If you need help finding a good daily Bible reading program, we will be glad to assist you. If you need practical help on what to do in your daily scheduled maintenance program (Quiet Time or Devotional Time), we would be happy to help you. If you need help with a maintenance plan in your key relationships, we would be happy to help you. At the Connection Church of Albuquerque, we connect people to God and to one another. I am looking forward to a new year of flying safely.

Pouring Into Others

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul shared that his life was being poured out as a drink offering. Paul was preaching the gospel, and pouring his life into the lives of men and women. One of the men that Paul poured himself into was Timothy. He became a spiritual father to young Timothy, and mentored him. Paul raised him up to be a great leader in the church at Ephesus, and then as an apostle to the church at large. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he writes, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul was asking Timothy to do the exact same thing that he had done, find faithful people and pour your life into them. (See Phil 2:17, 2 Tim 2:2.)

Karen and I are planting our fourth church, Connection Church of Albuquerque. One of my prayers is for God to show me the faithful people that He wants me to pour my life into for the next few years. I am also asking the Lord to bring faithful men and women for us to pour our lives into. We believe there are many faithful people that are looking for someone to help them fulfill the calling on their life. They are looking for someone to pour into them, and raise them up. Do you have someone whose life is being poured out for your benefit? Do you have someone pouring into your life? Are you pouring your life into faithful men and women that God has brought into your life? Ask God to show you who you are to pour your life into.

Two Decisions That I Am Thankful For

Today is a VERY special day for two reasons. First, it is Thanksgiving, a day to stop, reflect, and give thanks to our Father in heaven. Second, today is Karen’s birthday. Earlier this morning I was giving thanks to God for my salvation, and for reaching out in love to me, and drawing me to Himself. I was also giving thanks for Karen, my beautiful bride for the past forty years. She is an anointed woman of God, full of life, and an incredible partner in life and ministry.

As I was giving thanks to God, I remembered an incident on a Saturday morning at the Greater Hartford Open in 1993. I was getting ready to tee off on the seventh hole, and I noticed a young man in the gallery wearing a sweatshirt with the following message: “College is where you learn to make good decisions.” In that instant the Holy Spirit gave me a message for him. After I nailed my tee shot down the middle of the fairway, I went over to my golf bag and pulled out a Titleist golf ball for a souvenir, and one of my testimony tracts that had a picture of our family on the cover. I handed these two items to the young man and said, “College is where I made the best two decisions of my life. I invited Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord, and I decided to marry this incredible young lady that God brought into my life.” Today, I am still giving thanks to God for these two decisions that were made in college. I am a blessed man and have much to be thankful for.

Created To Be Connected

Recently, Karen was meeting with another woman, and she told Karen why she and her husband had recently left their church. She said that she had tried to connect with a number of different ladies, but had never been able to connect. People always had excuses for why they couldn’t meet.

In Genesis, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. God intended us to have relationships with one another. He intends for us to be connected to one another. This week, at the Connection Church, we are continuing our study of Genesis, and will be looking at being connected relationally. 

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 4

I have been sharing about evangelistic opportunities that I had at the car dealer last week. God gives me lots of opportunities to share with people. I remember my daughter, Kathleen, telling me once that she did not think that I had ever met a stranger. I was always starting conversations with people. The truth is that I was always looking for opportunities to share the gospel, or share an encouragement with someone. I also looked for opportunities to pray for people.  Larry Tomczak wrote a book many years ago called, Divine Appointments. I am always looking for these divine appointments. I believe that God wants to give all of us divine appointments. He has given all of us the mandate to preach the gospel. Why do some people have more of these appointments than others? I believe that one of the primary reasons is prayer.

Paul wrote to the Colossians and asked them to specifically pray that God would open up a door for the word so that he could share the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:3) Paul prayed for these open doors or divine appointments, and he asked other people to join him in asking God for more of these divine appointments. Karen and I take time each morning to present our lives to God as living and holy sacrifices. We offer our lives and our service to Him every morning. We ask God to give us divine appointments and opportunities to minister to people. Often, I will take time to pray that God will give divine appointments to the people in our church. I believe that prayer is one of the most important keys. Then, look expectantly for these opportunities. The opportunities at the car dealer are just examples of how God answers those prayers. When you are carrying out God’s work, He will give you opportunities. I ask you to join me in asking God for open doors so that we can speak forth the mystery of Christ.

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 3

After I had handed the golf tract to the new car sales manager, one of the salesmen came up to me and asked for a copy of the golf tips. His name was Mohammed, so I asked him if he was a Muslim. He replied that he was a Muslim, and he made sure that I knew that he was a practicing Muslim. He was part of the Sunni sect of Islam. I told him that I grew up in Iran, where they are Shiites. I asked him if he played golf, and he said no, but that he wanted to learn to play golf, which is why he had asked for the golf booklet. I told him that I would be happy to send him one, but that the one I gave to his manager was my last copy.

When I returned home, I took a copy of the Good News About Fundamentals and I wrote a note and a prayer in it. I said that I hope he enjoys the golf tips. But, I also wrote that I prayed that the Lord Jesus Christ would reveal Himself to him. I said that millions of Muslims around the world are turning to Christ. I told him that he was one that was seeking after God, and that God promises that those who seek Him will find Him. I not only wrote these things, but I took time to pray for Mohammed. I am continuing to pray that God will remove the veil from his eyes, and he will have an encounter with Jesus.

Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16) Paul was not just unashamed, he was bold in his witness. Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him to have boldness in sharing the mystery of Christ. Let’s pray for boldness. Let’s look for opportunities, and then step out boldly in sharing our faith with others.

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 2

While at the car dealer to get my truck repaired, I also met the new car manager. He was a young man to hold such a position. He asked me what I did for a living. I allowed him six questions before I  gave him my answer. After six questions, he was not even close. So I told him, years ago I played professional golf. He said that he was an avid golfer and had played on his high school golf team. I told him that I had something to give him. I took a gospel presentation that I had written for golfers called, “Good News About Fundamentals,” out of my briefcase. I also added a personal note and gave it to him. He was very appreciative.

When I travel I try to keep two gospel tracts with me. Because I played professional golf for twenty years, I carry the golf booklet with me. The Lord gave me that idea thirty years ago, and I have given out thousands of those gospel presentations. It has golf tips on every page, and then a part of the gospel message that ties in with the golf tip. It has been an effective tool. The other gospel tract that I carry with me is Billy Grahams, Steps To Peace. It is an excellent bridge illustration of the gospel. It was the primary tool that I used in prison ministry. It is clear, precise, and an excellent gospel presentation.

I make an effort to keep my briefcase stocked with a few gospel presentations because we are exhorted to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15) We have to be prepared. There are a few steps that are important in shodding our feet with the preparation of the gospel. First, we should be familiar with the gospel message. Get familiar with a good gospel tract, like Steps To Peace, so that you can share it. Second, carry gospel tracts with you. Third, look for opportunities that God will bring to you. Fourth, ask God for springboards into conversations so that you can share the gospel. God will use you and I when we shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel.

Evangelism – At The Car Dealership # 1

Last week, I had to go to Midland for a conference, and then on to Austin later that week for another conference. On the first day of the conference in Austin, my car window died just after I had lowered it to get my ticket in the parking garage. Since it was thirty-four degrees, and I did not want to drive home with a window down, I looked for the nearest Nissan dealer and drove my truck to get repaired. While at the dealer, I struck up a number of conversations with people. One of the people I met was the manager of the dealership. We discussed a number of things, and I mentioned that I was a Christian. Later, when I returned to the dealer, he came up to me and said, “You really are a Christian.” I did not immediately connect his comment to the one that I had with him on my first visit. I asked him what he meant by that. His response caught me off guard. He said he had gone to my truck and looked to see what music I played. When he turned the radio on, it was set to a Christian station in Austin. This manager had gone out of his way to go to the service area and see if my life and my words matched up. He was looking for authentic Christianity.

The world is watching you and me more carefully than you may realize. They are listening to our words, but they are also listening to the message our lives are sending. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” The world wants to know that we are conducting our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This man equated the music that someone listens to as the acid test of faith. Jesus said in John 13 that we are to love one another, and “by this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” Love is the best proof that we are true believers. What kind of message is your life preaching? Does your walk match your talk? Let’s live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Sandals On Our Feet

In Deuteronomy 25:5-10, when a brother refused to raise up offspring for his deceased brother, the childless widow would take the brother of her deceased husband before the elders at the gate of the city, which is where legal proceedings were held, and remove his sandal and spit in his face. (In Ruth 4:7 we find that the removal of the sandal was the attestation of all legal transactions.) The spit conveyed shame, but the removal of the sandal was a legal pronouncement of shame. The widow was to declare, “Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house. In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’”

 

Jesus was spat upon as He was going to the cross. He took our shame to the cross. But, that is not the only picture we have of our shame being removed. In Luke 15:11-32, we have the account of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son comes to his senses and returns to his father’s house, the father saw him from a distance and ran out to greet him. What the son had done was shameful. In essence, he had said that he wished his father were dead, and he just wanted his money. He had lived shamefully and squandered the money with loose living. But when the repentant son returned, the father felt compassion for him, and kissed and embraced him. Then, the father ordered his slaves to put the best robe on his son, put a ring on his finger, and to put sandals on his feet. All of these actions are significant.

 

When we come to Christ, he clothes us with His righteousness. He puts a ring of authority on our hands. And, He puts sandals on our feet so that we are no longer “the house of him whose sandal is removed,” i.e. the house of shame. We have a wonderful Savior who forgives our sins, removes our shame, and restores our authority. If that were not enough, the Father said, “bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.” As believers, we have plenty to celebrate.

Remembering That Jesus Was Spit Upon

In Mark 10:32-34, Jesus was prophesying to His disciples about what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem. He was going to be arrested, turned over to the Gentiles, spat upon, scourged, killed, and crucified. Then, in Mark 14:61-65, the prophecy came true. Jesus was arrested and taken to the religious leaders and scribes. They spat on Jesus and turned Him over to the Gentiles. In Mark 15:16-20, the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus, beat Him, spat upon, and crucified Him. As I meditated on the passage and asked the Lord about it, I was reminded of a couple passages that dealt with spit.

The first case of spitting was in Numbers 12:1-15. Aaron and Miriam had spoken against Moses, and the anger of the Lord burned against them. Miriam is struck with leprosy, and when Aaron sees this, he repents and asks Moses to forgive them for their foolish actions. Then, Moses cries out to God to heal Miriam. But, the Lord answers him and tells him that if a father spits in the face of his daughter, would she not bear her shame for seven days. The spit in the face signified shame.

Then, in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, we have a second example. When a man died before his wife had given him any children. The brother of the deceased man was to perform the duty of a husband and raise up a child for his dead brother. If a brother refused to do that, the wife of the deceased man would take the brother of her husband before the elders at the gate of the city, which is where legal proceedings were held, and remove his sandal and spit in his face. Then, she would declare, “Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” Again, the spitting on a person signified shame.

When Jesus led His disciples in the Lord’s supper, He took the bread and said, “this is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” As we remember what the Lord did, we have to consider how He was also spat upon. Jesus healed us of our sins by His stripes. He took our sins to the cross, and forgave us of all sins. The spit in the face is also significant. Jesus did more than take our sins; He also took away our shame. For all the shameful things that I have done in my life, Jesus was spit upon in my place. God wants you and I to be free of shame. No matter what you have done in your past, God has dealt with the shame. The next time you partake of the Lord’s supper, take time to remember how He took away your shame.