“I lift up my eyes to the hills; where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of Heaven and Earth.” That was my theme. David’s prayer from Psalms 121:1-2 is what I carried with me two weeks ago when I headed out to Kenya to help with an amazing ministry called Marked Men For Christ. The purpose of MMFC is singular and that is simply to build stronger men for Jesus Christ. That is exactly what we did with around 325 men from several nations all converging near Nakuru, Kenya. For my part, I had the privilege of leading two prayer teams during our time there and the transformation in the lives of men was miraculous. Below is a link to the report I gave yesterday at Cypress Crossings. Part of the message was ministry report but most of it was a sermon of encouragement. I hope it will be a blessing to you in your walk. Thank you again to everyone who lifted this project up in prayer and financial support. The time was incredibly productive with even eternal ramifications.
We are just six week away from the Africa Marked Men For Christ mission project and I wanted to send out a prayer email in preparation. It’s been quite a while since I’ve participated in an international project like this and only recently was reminded of my personal need for prayer support. So with that I’d like to invite you to lift up me and the other 46 men from the States who are headed to Nairobi in late April to minister to African men from Kenya and five other African nations.
For the logistics of the trip, I will be flying out of Houston on the 23rd 10:45a and arrive in Nairobi on Sunday night, the 24th at 6p. My return flights will begin on Sunday, May 1st at 11:25p and landing in Houston on Monday at 2:45p. The exact event timing will be from Tuesday through Thursday with prep on Monday and follow up training on Friday. My particular role will be to lead one of the four prayer teams during the three day event.
The stakes are high and the need is huge for leadership development of men in these nations. The goal is that these men will be able to return to their home stronger ambassadors for Christ in their neighborhoods, cities, and countries. Maybe eventually to the nations.
I want to thank you who have already begun to pray for this ministry and for the financial support of many of you. Specifically, I am asking that you write the trip dates down on a good calendar as a reminder to lift us up daily during that season. The chances are good that I will have email access during the evenings so that I will be able to make on the ground reports.
For prayer, please lift up:
-Safe travel for the African men going to and from Nairobi.
-Safe travel for the American and European men.
-Safety would be both from danger and sickness.
-Protection from Satanic, political, and physical distractions.
-Open hearts of the African men.
-Wisdom for myself and the other leaders.
-Protection for Debi and the girls while I am gone.
-Anything else that the Holy Spirit might lay on your heart.
Thank you again and please let me know if you have any questions.
PS If you’d like to be included in the update email list just shoot me a note.
I love this picture that Deb took of the boys when they were younger back in Nor Cal. This was our first camping trip at 8,000 feet in the Yosemite National Park area. Now John is headed back to Ozark Christian College for his 4th semester and David is just a few weeks out from graduating from USMC Boot Camp. Several years ago a couple of strangers told me as I was graduating with my MA that I needed to treasure the time with my kids as they would grow up before I knew it. My how they were right. My two daughters are still at home in High School but I know those days are numbered as well. In fact, all of our days are numbered. From time to time I’m taken back to the wise words in the Bible where the psalmist prayed that God would “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Indeed we only have so much time on this good green earth that God created and it’s up to us to make the most out of the days we have been given. There are just three more days in 2015. What are you going to do with them? 2016 is right around the corner. How are you going to make the New Year count?
Solidarity is what she opened her discussion with. Shortly after the December 2nd mass shooting in San Bernardino by a Muslim husband and wife, Wheaton College Professor, Larycia Hawkins, set out to demonstrate solidarity with her Muslim neighbors by wearing a hijab. She cleared the actions with Wheaton, which is a major Christian liberal arts university, and all appeared to be fine. While my idea of solidarity promotion wouldn’t include the wearing of a hijab any more than suggesting that a Muslim cleric wear a Catholic Priest’s collar, I understand the desire to do something to foster a spirit of peace. I agree that stereo typing all Muslims as terrorist is something that we must fight. Days later though Professor Hawkins was suspended by the university. As some raced to condemn the institution and point to the public wearing of the Islamic female head covering as their reason, the real issue was much deeper and I completely agree with Wheaton’s decision.
For our friends who have been following Deb’s medical condition over the past 14 months we’re happy to report that her recent gallbladder surgery went very well. In pre-op she was asked if there were any other piercings that needed to be taken care of before the procedure. At that I told the nurse that I had suggested to Deb a while back that she get a belly ring. My request didn’t go too far. The big news though is that she is regaining strength on the right side of her body and the pain seems to be subsiding. We are chalking this up simply to miraculous as there is nothing that we’ve done to initiate the change. So we’re praising God and are enormously grateful for the doctors that have personally walked with us during Debi’s medical journey.
Over my years in ministry I’ve interacted with a lot of doctors and medical staff. Every time I meet one of these physicians I’m always impressed with their ability and gifting. With Deb’s condition we have met a number of highly competent medical professionals including Dr. Erika Simpson of Houston Methodist, Dr. Kang of Cypress Fairbanks Hospital, and Dr. Miranda who performed Deb’s gallbladder surgery. Again and again I’ve noted the ability in these brilliant people and thanked God for their skill.
Recently I noticed an article chiding followers of Christ for their misunderstandings of Christmas floating around cyberspace. It was gathering a good bit of attention from some of my friends who don’t normally go in for Biblical Christianity. Usually when that scenario plays out you can bet the post is cynical at best and derogatory at worst and most often simply filled with half-truths. This particular post was found in Time.com and written by Mark Sandlin. (link here) In the post, Sandlin shared what he felt were 10 things Christians should NOT DO on Christmas to which my skeptical friends thought were great. A few of Mark’s comments were right on while on the other hand a few of them made me question if the guy really knows Jesus or not. So today I have written a quick response to Mr. Sandlin and then 10 quick things that Christians SHOULD do on Christmas. So anyway, here we go . . .
As I woke up this morning I saw the news feeds about Ferguson rolling out faster than moths to a flame. Some were spot on and some were just downright silly. As the commentary continued it became obvious that very few people were seeing the real root of the problem or even really cared to know what the true answers were. Why? Because it’s someone else’s fault.
I want my cupcake! That’s what I said YEARS ago when I got home from trick or treating as my dad took away the freshly frosted pastry that I had in my plunder. The reason for this confiscation was because some nut jobs the previous year had given out dangerous treats and parents were warned not to take food which wasn’t properly packaged. I was bummed. (I actually snuck back to the trash later on and retrieved my snack.) But every year the question arises as to what Christ followers should do about Halloween. The only time I really get nervous in this quandary is when someone says definitively that everyone who claims to be a Christian MUST take their point of view.
Well here we go again. Every six months or so some self-proclaimed expert gains temporary notoriety by boasting from their special research that the authenticity of Bible and the claims of Christianity are a sham. Today’s scholar, Michael Paulkovich, writes to prove the messiah is a myth by citing more than 100 writers of the first and second century in which none of them mention Jesus. In short, his first argument being that if Jesus really did exist, then theses educated experts would have written about him. However, the simple absence of Jesus in the documents of these writers does not logically conclude that they had never heard of him. Even if they did not have knowledge of Jesus this does not prove that Jesus was a myth. All we know for certain is that they didn’t write about him. In one sense though, this would actually be expected as the mission of Jesus was not one of vying for public recognition. Jesus didn’t come for the paparazzi of the day or swim in the circles of the writers that Paulkovich referenced. Rather, Jesus spent most of his time with the least of humanity. The other side of the coin of which Paulkovich fails to research is the archaeological and historical writers of the era who did speak of Jesus. Here are just a few historians of the day who wrote about Christ.
Recently I came across a movie covering an event that I apparently missed in my history classes. The flick came out in 2012 and recounts a decisive battle that took place on September 11th of 1683. Like the infamous Sept. 11th, 2001 that so many of us remember, this battle was also begun by Muslims in the name of Allah. The Day of the Siege is the name of this historical drama that remembers the Muslim army of over 300,000 soldiers from the Ottoman Empire with the intent to conquer Vienna and ultimately Rome thereby turning the Vatican into a mosque. The main character in the piece was a humble Catholic Monk named Marco d’Aviano who lived from 1631 to 1699. It was Marco who encouraged and united the western forces which ultimately led to the defeat of the Ottoman army.