Author Archives: John Wilburn

The Fear is Fun

In late July 2021 I had TWO eyes that gave excellent vision! The rest of my medical furlough focused on two things. Making memories, and studying for future college classes.

Memories were made with my brother and his family by visiting a local amusement park twice. There’s something about riding roller coasters that bonds you!

Going there twice also reminded me of an important truth…..

Fear is part of the fun!

The first time we went it was incredibly busy so we didn’t get to ride many of the popular rides. The second time it was totally different! Now we could ride a scary roller coaster, then turn around and get back on a second less than ten minutes later.

More than one of those rides frightened me! I got on anyways because my fourteen year old niece was with me (couldn’t let her see me being a chicken) but as those rides left my heart was racing. Sometimes that first ride was PRETTY SCARY! The interesting thing was the second time we rode it, that ride wasn’t so bad anymore. And after the third time it didn’t scare me at all!

The thing about fear is it’s great…..until we face it!

We often envision the worst-case-scenario about things that frighten us. Taking things that would probably never happen, and making this the only option keeps us from attempting it at all. But when we actually force ourselves to face the thing we feared it surprisingly isn’t so scary after all.

The trick is to not wait until our fear is gone before attempting things. The Christian life will always be a combination of fear and faith. The fear will definitely be there, but the faith will always be bigger than the fear.

So take my advice dear friend and face your fears.

Close your eyes if you have to, and scream at the top of your lungs

I promise you will enjoy the ride.

Looking for Fruit

Ministering in a religious mission field creates many different challenges. One of the greatest is understanding when a person is truly saved. A religious person can believe the right things, do the right things, and even pray a sinners prayer without becoming saved.

So how do we know when Salvation has come?
We look for fruit!

Its true religious can do things. But the fruit of Salvation is a TRANSFORMED LIFE! As mentioned earlier this week, religious people focus on Godly action’s while their own hearts are incredibly sinful. Salvation transforms and cleanses the heart of an individual, so a dramatic change takes place overnight.

This transformation is seen in the change, but the consistency of that change is what truly reveals who has been transformed.

The decisions of a religious person are normally based on emotion or circumstances. So they start strong (sometimes even stronger than everyone else) but quickly run out of energy. The blazing fire seems to become a pile of ashes overnight.

True transformation on the other hand keeps burning!

This doesn’t mean there will never be struggles for the new Christian of course. They will find themselves on the front lines of spiritual warfare! Satan will do ANYTHING to keep them from serving the Lord. But the true Believer has the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to help withstand Satan’s attacks. The young Believer obviously won’t be perfect but with God’s help they will stand firm.

The problem with the religious is they fall down, and never get back up.

Many people refer to themselves as backsliding Christians. They were doing well, but then messed up spiritually. But don’t worry because they will “catch themselves” (make it right). I always ask people when they backslid, and its usually over seven years ago.

That is not a backslider….

That is an unbeliever!

A true Believer would return to the Lord because the conviction of being away from Him would be far too great for them to endure. Only those who don’t really have a relationship with the Lord can walk away for that long.

It is tough sometimes inspecting spiritual fruit. In a way it would be easier to just let the person believe they are saved. But for those who don’t know the Lord, telling them the hard truth is the most loving thing I could possibly do!

God’s Way is Best

A week after my first eye surgery in July 2021, they did a surgery on a much less severe cataract in my right eye. After the first surgery I was able to see things far away and at a decent size clearly. But small (fine) print was still a huge struggle.

The reason for this is because I qualified for a special cataract surgery (I can’t remember the name of it) that sees close using the right eye, and far away using the left eye. The trick is you have to be accustomed to having a “dominant eye.” For someone with contacts, this means you only put them in one eye instead of both. People who don’t have a dominant eye cannot use this type of surgery.

Over the years I’ve begun putting a contact in my left eye only, and have been able to see clearly. So I asked the surgeon if it was possible for me to get the special surgery. We talked about it, and he agreed.

The beauty of this surgery is it eliminates the need for corrective lenses entirely!

I was pretty sure it would work, but excited to try. One thing I hadn’t been able to do is have devotions from my Bible because the print was too fine to read without the surgery. My hope was the morning after the last surgery I’d be able to read it.

I got the surgery Wednesday, and Thursday morning grabbed a cup of coffee, with my Bible. I slowly opened it and looked down…..

I could see the words perfectly!!!

This experience has reminded me how God doesn’t always do things by our own timing. But when He does the work it is glorious! The Lord did more than I expected (getting my eyes fixed so the contacts could work properly) by eliminating the contacts altogether!!

It is hard waiting on the Lord sometimes. But we can take heart in knowing He will bless abundantly

A Circumcision of the Heart

Reaching a religious mission field first of all involves showing individuals that being religious is not the same as being saved. But it is also involves showing Believers that the Christian life is not about religion.

The sad truth is many believers are saved by Grace through faith…..

And then try to live the Christian life by works

A lot of times this isn’t even a conscious thing because the focus is on outer acts such as attending church, prayer, and reading Scripture. Of course these things are wonderful, but the most important thing to God is a personal relationship walking closely with Him. This emphasis on works can make us believe that we are close to the Lord when this isn’t really true.

I can remember when the Lord taught me this in the eleventh grade. Up till this point I had accepted Christ, was actively involved in the church, and had accepted the call to preach. So I was in no way rebellious or wicked! But the whole emphasis was on just doing what the Lord wanted me to do.

One Wednesday night at youth meeting a friends brother gave a devotional from Romans 2:29. As he explained how the Jews were emphasizing outer works like physical circumcision while the Lord cared about an inner relationship, the Holy Spirit began to convict me. Suddenly I realized that Christianity is a relationship with God, not something that we do.

As an illustration its about the difference between a personal and public relationship with God. A public relationship with God is absolutely a part of Christianity with the outer works. Yet there must also be a personal (private) relationship with Him based on time spent in meditation, Bible study, and prayer. It is the personal time spent with the Lord that’s truly important to God. Unfortunately many Believers have a vibrant public relationship, but a weak personal relationship.

The answer to this problem is to start with the personal relationship, and work from there.

As a person focuses on their heart relationship with God (time spent with Him, commitment to Him) then the public relationship will become vibrant. Now the outer acts such as church memberships are forms of worship that flow out of a heart that truly loves the Lord.

The Apostle Paul is right in asking the Galatians if they are foolish enough to think faith can save them, and then works can perfect the Christian life (Galatians 3:3). The same religious works that could never save someone, could never bring Holiness.

Time with Family

The major reason for my medical furlough was the cataracts on both my eyes (the one on the left was very severe). But that definitely wasn’t the only thing I was looking forward to.

One major goal during this furlough was to spend time with family.

the Lord knows that missions work takes us away from our families. This is a sacrifice I make willingly (as well as my family) because salvation and discipleship of souls is a great calling. At the same time, going years without seeing family face to face (it had been 2 1/2 years since I’d been in the States) was a challenge.

So after getting my eyes fixed, my only goal was to spend time with family. Ministry could have been done during that time, but I honestly wanted to focus on being present with loved ones.

Because family is precious

A few days after my first eye surgery (but before my second) I went out to eat with my dad and brother. It was a wonderful time of fellowship talking about the past, and what God has for us in the future. The lord brought many opportunities to simply spend time with my family, and recharge.

It’s funny how the small things affect us sometimes.

When I think about the medical furlough my mind doesn’t go to the eye surgeries

  1. I remember drinking coffee with my dad while we go to Lowes
  2. I remember taking my mom out on date
  3. I remember make a silly video with my nephew
  4. I remember spending the night at my brothers house and watching movies with my nieces and nephew
  5. I remember riding roller coasters with my teenage niece

Yes I’m incredibly thankful my eyes were fixed

But I’m more thankful for a family to spend time with after they were fixed

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