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I have blogs to post but having trouble with Wi-Fi … we are working on it!

I’m Getting Older

As I age I hope I am becoming not just older but wiser. I work hard at growing both spiritually and mentally, in my walk with the Lord and in my understanding of the world and how culture and society interact with the spiritual world. Around the world, as I speak with people, I note that believers, mostly young disciples, simply want to discover the power and person of Jesus in the real world in which they are living – their local context of friends and family. They also want to be seriously involved in having or making an impact on their local world – their peer group, their neighbourhood, their work place. They want to be engaged “on mission” as the earlier followers of Jesus were (read the New Testament book of Acts and the epistles / letters).

The young people (and some who are older) are not interested in “church” but they are interested in a valid, no-hype experience of Jesus and what it really means to be a Christian and a disciple of the Lord. Church buildings, highly polished services, expensive and expansive programs and neither required nor desired. They want real! They want to explore their faith! They want to have others walk with them on their journey of faith – not necessarily lead but walk beside them , helping when and if necessary. They are seeking for meaningful community where real people struggle with real issues and find solid answers in Jesus and His Word.

These people are looking to become involved, committed, and accountable so that they can grow and reproduce – actually influence and impact others for Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom. They don’t want something removed from real life – they want something that will immerse them into real life, but with a difference. The difference being a supportive community of believers who will encourage them, pray for them and with them, support them, and love them. In a real and concrete way, of course. No more, “I will remember you in my prayers” only to forget. No more hypocrisy – believing one thing and doing another, saying one thing and meaning another. Whimps and hypocrites are soon spotted and will not be comfortable. Only those who are serious about the life-changing message of Jesus need apply.

I personally tire of those who say they are believers and never change or mature. Those who lift their hands in worship telling Jesus they love Him but fail to obey Him (a biblical way of proving your love). The average Christian who is happy and comfortable with being average. Those who come and receive but never give. The perpetual victims in life who apparently fail to hear the message that we are ambassadors of Jesus and not victims always needing help and support. Those who look to the Christian Church to justify a life-style that is anything but Christian. Those who live like the world and behalf like they don’t really believe.

So, I am just tired of all this? No! Just wiser than I use to be and aware that if I don’t change my approach nothing significant will ever happen. People will simply go on doing what they are doing and getting the same results. It is time to move on to something better, brighter, more productive, more alive, more dynamic, more impacting, more world-changing. There are many out there who are looking for a valid encounter with Jesus and a community of significance and influence to belong to and I am one of them.

Termessos

Well I have walked up to the very top of a very large mountain to see the Roman ruins there. Amazing! Some of the ruins pre-date Rome and go back to pre-Greek Empire. This was the one city that Alexander the Great never conquered and now I know why. It was am absolutely amazing and fascinating afternoon and evening. Absolutely amazing!

The ancient city is called Termessos and is located 30 Km north-west of Antalya (I stay in a suburb of that city). It is a Pisidian city built at a height of 1050 meters in the Taurus Mountains. What is known of this city’s history commences principally at the time of Alexander as he surrounded the city in 333 BC. Believe me it is a wonder that he ever found it. Alexander wrote back to headquarters saying that it was like an eagle’s nest and thus he failed to conquer it. Actually it was partly because of the fortifications that are still there, the way the walls were built (I walked on them) and the mighty warriors this city raised up.

Termessos, after a gradual decline, was finally abandoned in the 5th century AD Some of what I saw included the library, the baths, tho temples to Artimis, one to Zeus, a theatre, the Hadrian’s triumphal arch, the cisterns (amazing, amazing), the gymnasium, the agora, the odeon and the heroon. Google the words – it is amazing.

The theatre was built right into the sides of mountain looking down… I stood in it. You are literally at the top of the mountains and could touch the clouds as they moved with the wind. Among the tombs, which are all over the place, can be seen tombs of people from the Alcates, Agatemeros, and a lion decorated Sarcophagi – extraordinary. Amazing … oh, I said that word before. Amazing!!!!!!

I am exhausted and sore but what a day.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I am on my way to the first of three airports at 2:30p local time … will arrive in Almaty, Kazakhstan at 6:10a on Thursday local time.

Burning Your Bridges

Elijah calls Elisha to follow him. He will one day replace Elijah as the lead prophet of Israel but first he needs to follow, learn, and be mentored. As he prepares to leave he burns all his ploughs, slaughters his teams of oxen’s, and invites his friends to the Bar-B-Que.

This was more than disposing of his assets – this was closing the door to returning to what was if he is not happy with what is to come. This is Elisha saying that he is committed to following Elijah regardless of the cost and so removing any reason he might have for coming back. He is cutting ties with his past and saying yes to his future.

For Jesus’ disciples we see this same action when they left their fishing nets and boats to follow Him (Matthew 4:18-22)

Every one of us needs to take an inventory of our life and actively engage with the question: “What is it, God? What personal plough do you want me to burn?”

It’s drastic to cut ties with the thing that is chaining you to a life you have become comfortable with. But I promise you, the real risk isn’t in launching out into a new life of greater things with Jesus. It’s staying in your old life of the ordinary.

Maybe right now that seems like too much to ask. That’s why it is important not only to count the cost of burning the ploughs but also to count the cost of not burning the ploughs.

For the rich young ruler, whom Jesus told to sell all of his possessions, burning the ploughs was too radical, too decisive an act. That’s why he walked away sorrowful (see Mark 10:22). The rich young ruler had just as much of an encounter with God as Elisha did. The only difference was that he wasn’t willing to burn the ploughs. The real tragedy for the rich young ruler was that he would never know what he missed out on.

Right after the rich young ruler left the scene, Peter asked Jesus what he could expect to get from following Jesus. jesus said:

“No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

The cost of following Jesus is great. The cost of not following Him is even greater.

You’ll give up a lot to pursue God’s calling on your life. You’ll miss out on even more if you stay in the field.

Last Full Day In Turkey

Tuesday – my last full day in Turkey. I have had a great morning learning from some terrific Bible teachers and hearing some tremendous testimonies. Now I am waiting for a tour of the Roman ruins at Termessos which will start at 2:30 and finish at 6:00p That is the last thing I am involved in.

Tonight I will spend time consolidating what I have seen, heard, and learned during my time in Turkey. I do keep a daily journal – not just when in Turkey but also while home. And, I have some things to work on – details to enter into calendars and my computer notepad. Hopefully have some time to read as well as catch up on world news on BBC… I have been doing that daily because of the current struggles going on in Ukraine.

Wednesday morning is preparation time for my first day of ministry in Kazakhstan (Thursday). I leave the hotel at noon, an hour’s drive to airport, fly at 5:00p to Istanbul and then at 11:00p to Almaty, Kazakhstan arriving at 6:05a and starting work by mid-morning. So, need to prepare the first day’s material before leaving the hotel so that I am ready to minister. I will be working in Kazakhstan for three groups from Thursday through to the following Wednesday… I fly back to Canada on March 13 starting very early n the morning. Your prayers for this upcoming 7 days would be greatly appreciated.

I wil share much more about my time in Turkey in person when home…

Timeless Truths in Timely Ways

One of the amazing things we have been called – even commanded – to do is to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ. We are called to go to the nations of the world and represent the living God and His Kingdom. This is as real as being an ambassador for your nation and being sent to represent your nation in another nation. Or, at least, it should be as real. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5).

We are also called, in the same passage, to be ministers of reconciliation. By this “calling” we discover the message we are to deliver as ambassadors in the foreign nation to which we are sent. Our message is that Jesus saves us from our sins and offers to us a tremendous purpose to fulfill with the abundant life that He has just given us. It is a powerful message – it is the only message we have to deliver. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Amazingly God trusts this message in our hands and calls us to share it within our world at home as well as in other nations. You know the words, “Go into all the world and make disciples…”

We are, as ambassadors and ministers of reconciliation. So, we need to learn how to express the Gospel, this timeless truth in a timely way. Our methods must relate to the people we are trying to reach. They must be cultural sensitive methods taking into account the people you are trying to reach whether they be in your home town or half way around the world. We call this “contextualization.” It means that you are called to share the Gospel in a way that it can be understood. To do this you need to know the people that you are sent to be an ambassador to. Contextualization is not about making the gospel relevant, but showing the relevance of the gospel. To show that the Gospel is relevant to people you need to know the people.

The way you share the Gospel with a university student in my home town is certainly not the way I would share it with a senior citizen who attends a denominational church on a daily or a weekly basis. The university student most likely has no ‘Christian consciousness’ because their generation was not brought up being taught the Bible and often they have never seen or opened a Bible. They have not been inside a church because wedding are done outside and funerals are done from the funeral home chapel. So, a university student needs to be approached with the message of our King and Kingdom in a way that acknowledges that they do not believe the Bible, have no absolutes, do not believe in Hell, don’t have a correct concept of sin, and have little to no interest in God. A senior, on the other hand, would have a Christian background and so there is some common ground from which you can share the message.

So, my point: We must know how to share timeless truth with timely methods. This does not mean we are trying to make the gospel relevant – it is always relevant. We are simply learning to share it in a way that shows the relevance of the gospel. 

Cool at the Foot of the Mountain

It is Monday – and I have been thinking about Moses and the people of God as they left Egypt and began their initial trip to the Promised Land. They are three days journey away from slavery and they are at the foot of God’s mountain. This is the place they have left Egypt to visit. Yes, there was a Promised Land to move towards. But, the real reason they left Eqypt, according to Moses’ words to the ruler of the nation, was to worship God. They are camped at the foot of the mountain and are preparing themselves to meet with their God – the God who has just done numerous miracles, signs and wonders in Egypt including freeing them, as a nation, from slavery in Egypt. They are preparing to meet with their God.

Maybe I am thinking of this story because I am sitting at the foot of a mountain and there is thunder from the top of the mountain as in the story in the Book of Exodus. The thunder I am experiencing comes with heavy rain. The thunder they experienced was the presence of their God as He prepared to reveal Himself to His people. The top of the mountain here is clouded over as it was in the days of Moses. So, I picture in my mind what Moses and his people must have experienced. I am not planning to climb the mountain as they did because I don’t need to. They were summoned to a meeting with their God and He wanted them to come to the top of the mountain where His presence was. I am able to meet with God anywhere and everywhere so no mountain climbing experience is necessary.

This morning I was reading in Romans as that is the book of the Bible I am currently reading. And, there God met me. He talked with me through those words written 2,000 years ago. Spoke right to my heart. And, I spent time with my God looking at the mountain … No matter where I travel in the world God is present in that place. But, more importantly, I sense His presence. I value the experience of talking with Him. This is not a routine or even a discipline of the Christian faith – it is a relationship that I pursue with Him daily. I simply want to spend time with Him. I need to!

This is not always easy. it is seldom convenient (this morning it was at 6:00a as I had a breakfast scheduled with someone at 7:30). But it is always important. And necessary. And, God is always available to chat and sped time with me, one of His children who is currently far from home. It is these times in His presence and hearing His voice that keep me and encourage me on a daily basis – but especially when away from my family at home in Canada.

Greatest Setback or Greatest Setup?

Have you noticed that God doesn’t always answer our prayers? But I do know that God never wastes our faith and we, of course, pray in faith. God is honoured and pleased by our faith. Jesus will be looking for faith when He returns. God never wastes our faith. He never has, and He never will. It’s against His character. He’s a reliable manager of anything that is entrusted to Him, including our lives. So, once we have placed our faith in Him and become born again, children of the living God, He is able to care for every detail of our lives because we have trusted Him and entrusted our lives into His loving care. He hears our every prayer and is also a good manager of the requests that we ask of Him in faith. God never wastes our faith and God hears each and every prayer.

So, when I pray in faith and apparently God doesn’t answer – I need to trust Him. I need to have faith in Him – faith that He knows what He is doing and that He will only do what is best for me because He loves me. Thus, having faith in God and faith in the fact that God is listening to me every moment of every day and that He hears my prayers… this faith is never wasted. Everyone experiences what seem to be unanswered prayers. But in God’s Kingdom and God’s economy, no one’s faith is ever wasted and every prayer is heard and dealt with (managed) by God.

God is working on our behalf even when our prayers don’t seem to be working at all. Maybe one day we will see that the greatest setbacks in our lives (and thus apparent unanswered prayers) were actually the greatest setups to seeing God’s glory in places we didn’t even know to look. In other words, when the door closes look for a window. When God is silent and prayers go unanswered – trust God, have faith in him. He is knows what you really need and is preparing a tremendous future for you. This is what we believe and have faith for even when circumstances don’t yet line up and there is little really to have hope in.

God’s vantage point is so much great than ours. He sees the future, we don’t! He knows what we need – we know what we want! He has the best way and we have our own way. He knows all the facts and we function from few facts and mostly feelings. He sees the past, present and future all at the same time and we see today and maybe tomorrow. We need to understand – He wants s simply to have faith and trust Him.

So, I have chosen to live my life believing that I belong to One whose vantage point is greater than mine. One who has my best interest at heart. One who knows what I need and when I need it. I choose this way of life – walking by faith and not by sight – because God is too faithful to waste my faith. He is too wise to make a mistake. He is too loving to disregard my heart. And He is overseeing every prayer I pray, making good on every promise He has made and prophetic word He has spoken.

I simply believe in Him!

Sunday in Turkey

Thanks to everyone who is praying. It has been a powerful two days (Friday and Saturday) and this morning was also one that touched my heart and revealed some new truths that I will need to be working with. This afternoon is a time for my Bible so I hope to walk down to the Mediterranean Sea so as to enjoy the warmer day we have here today. It has been chilly (+14-16) but not near as bad as -60 back home.

There is a great deal happening. Every minute of every day is filled with wonderful opportunities to build relationships with others and to hear their stories. People have amazing stories to tell of their journey through life and what they have experienced as a result of some decisions that they have made. I am enjoying hearing their stories and coming to know them. Every person is fascinating – and the countries they come from are, of course, unique and exciting to hear about. International travel is exciting because of all the different people you meet, the stories we share, and the places we come from. People here think I am crazy to live where it gets as cold as it does.

I have begun to think through my time in Kazakhstan where I head from here. Flight is on Wednesday … I meet with those I relate to as soon as the plane lands. It will be a busy seven days while in this great nation I visit twice a year.

Please pray for safety and for all the people I am meeting and building relationships with.

Second Full Day

The weather is still cool here in the mountains of Turkey. But my heart is warm. God’s presence is real and I feel as if He is renewing my vision for Him, for His Kingdom, and for the Church Jesus is building. Not the institutional church we often associate with God as we “go to church” but the living, breathing, dynamic, daily organism called the Body of Christ. Quiet times in my hotel room, walks by the sea, time on the balcony with my Bible and the mountains….refreshing, renewing, revitalizing, reenergizing, reinvigorating.

It is good to slow down once-in-a-while and take stock of your own soul. Ministry is great and powerfully fulfilling at times. But, nothing satisfies like Jesus satisfies. And Jesus can quickly become just the backdrop for much of what we do as believers. But, He desires centre stage as it is really all about Him. It is His ministry we are doing. It is His Kingdom that we are helping Him to expand. It is His Church that we are connecting to and working with. It is His cause and His commandments that we are working to fulfill. It is about Him and only Him. It is not about is. It never was and never will be.

So, I am taking some time to refocus and even, yes, to be healed. Why healed? Because ministry can be dangerous to one’s spiritual health and can wound a person deeply. Betrayal, expectations not fulfilled, promises not kept, dreams not fulfilled, and hard work that did not bear fruit as expected. So, it is good to be away from ministering for a week to regroup and refocus so that I can return renewed and revitalized with a clearer picture of my Lord and what He is doing today in His Kingdom as well as my role in that Kingdom.

Thanks for your prayers…