Category Archives: Missionary Musings

Missions Cannot be Cheap

I have grown up being careful with money, so being frugal or “cheap” is part of my identity. This doesn’t mean I don’t give to others (because I do) but am cheap when it comes to spending money on myself.

Recently the Lord showed me being cheap isn’t a bad thing……..

But it can be a great hinderance to ministry.

The fact of the matter is ministry takes money. Programs such as VBS, camp, and outreach in the community have lots of cost involved. Being cheap or frugal in this situation would be a great detriment because it offers a below-average ministry.

The principle then is to be very frugal personally, so that you can invest money in ministry.

Solomon explains it this way in Proverbs

Prov. 11:24   There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

Scattering in this verse refers to giving money away. So the person who invests money in others and ministries (scattereth) will increase, but the person who is greedy will lose everything. Practically this means being willing to give away what you have saved.

The Lord reminded me about the importance of frugality that invests in others a few weeks ago when a friend was scheduled to work at a nearby island, but did not have the money to get there. In desperation he texted me to ask if I could loan the money for the trip. Of course I gave it to him! The week before I loaned money to a man who was welding a gate, and couldn’t finish it without purchasing some new material.

I couldn’t have helped either of these men if my life wasn’t frugal, but I couldn’t let that frugality keep me from giving that money away.

There is a delicate balance here between saving and giving, but the important thing is understanding we don’t save to accumulate money. We save to grow ministries, and help others in need. The danger of course is to refuse to give when someone’s in need because being cheap is more important than ministry.

I will stay cheap because God made me that way.

But by His grace that frugality won’t weaken my ministry, but help it thrive

Faith is Doing What’s Next

Faith is a big part of missions, but we often romanticize it. People think of faith as doing the impossible task, or facing insurmountable odds.

This is true sometimes, but usually faith is far less exciting….

It’s simply doing what’s next

The enemy of faith is anxiety or worry about what comes in the future. Often this anxiety focuses us on the upcoming challenges mentally as well as emotionally. In worst cases we may not act at all in the present because of worry about the future.

So faith must forget about tomorrow, and deal with today

Of course the foundation to this is the understanding that our Heavenly Father knows our needs. He will meet those needs in His perfect timing, and in a way that gives Him glory. Our job is to simply focus on the needs of today.

As Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Of course focusing on the problems of that today is easier said than done…

So God has to remind us He has tomorrow under control

A few weeks ago I wrote my big project of creating notes for a three-week church history class. The research for that meant going through a 600 page book to make a teaching outline. Two Sundays ago I officially reached halfway, but was planning to spend a week at camp (NO TIME for research!)

I realized that camp was more important than my church history notes, but was still stressing a bit about it because the week off put me farther behind.

The Lord knew I was anxious about this, so He had a friend send me the text above around 10:30 Tuesday morning. A few hours later I had 173 pages of notes!!!

The thing is God shouldn’t have to remind me yet again that He has tomorrows problems under control…..

but I’m thankful He still does

So faith is consistently doing what’s next even when God doesn’t send 173 pages of notes. Because tomorrow there will be fresh measure of grace to meet that days challenges.

Filling Their Love Tank

Last week I had the opportunity to help out at a church camp with young people. It was a wonderful opportunity to develop relationships, and teach teens about the Lord.

It was also a powerful reminder that we all need grace

One of the boys at the camp was constantly getting into trouble from the very first day. He LOVED attention, and would constantly misbehave to make people laugh. As the days went on he definitely tested my patience! But I realized his true problem was a leaking love tank.

Dr Ed. Welch refers to our need for encouragement and affirmation as “a love tank”. This is supposed to be be filled by our relationship with God, but many individuals fill it with people.

Of course the problem is our love tanks leak, or we lose the feeling of being loved or affirmed. This means it must be continually refilled.

This young man for one reason or another (maybe his home life) had a love tank that was nearly on empty….and he was desperately trying to fill it with the attention of others.

I was actually drawn to him because in my younger years I was a lot like him, a class clown so to speak who everyone liked to laugh at. Whenever people laughed at my joke or silly thing I did it filled my love tank, and I did it more often. Of course my antics had to become sillier and sillier in order to gain the attention over time.

The answer wasn’t to fill his cup with loving attention.

By this I mean being completely present with him, and pouring all of the love that I have into his heart. This meant we spent a lot of time by ourselves, but I made sure he always knew that I loved him

  1. Thursday morning he got in trouble during chapel so I asked him to sit along the wall
  2. And then against the wall outside of the building (he kept getting people’s attention inside)
  3. And the underneath a tree!
  4. During that time he went from pleading with me, to being, angry, and feeling sorry for himself. Through it all I just sat with him, patiently filling his love tank

The truly interesting thing is after that morning he was good for the rest of the week. In fact we had no problems with him at all!

Why?

Because his love tank was full.

As someone who struggled with self-esteem let me assure you the children who misbehave do need correction. But they also need someone who will sit on the other side of the tree, and tell them they love them.

Dealing with the Disease not the Symptoms

“The symptoms may vary tremendously from case to case, but the business of the preacher is not to medicate symptoms, it is to treat the disease. ” Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones

Over the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with an annoying head cold. It wasn’t anything serious, just caused some ringing in my ears, and headaches. I tried taking care of it with basic measures like using ginger and tumeric, or taking pain meds.

My reason for doing this is going on cold medication (or Histal) would knock me out for a day, and leave my head in a fog for a day or two thereafter. I HATE feeling like that so kept putting if off.

Finally last Saturday I broke down and started taking the cold meds. Though most of Monday was spent in bed, the cold was gone by Tuesday.

This experience reminds of the spiritual disease we all struggle with. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones in his excellent book “Preaching and Preachers” refers to the call of preachers to confront sin with the Gospel of Christ. It is easy for sermons to focus on secondary issues, or symptoms as he refers to him (happiness, peace, joy, comfort) while the true problem is not dealt with.

For a few days I could overcome my head cold with exercise and supplements. But the truth is my disease WAS STILL THERE! The symptoms may have been cured (like headaches) but the cold itself would remain till I took proper cold medication, and gave my body time to rest.

In the same way Dr Lloyd-Jones explains the symptoms of the disease may be gone. The individual may be calm, happiness may be restored, they may be involved in Scripture reading and prayer. But the disease of sin IS STILL THERE!

This fact becomes clear to me when counseling unsaved friends. Many of them struggle with relationship issues, family drama, or poverty and during our sessions will say something like this. “If only I could have enough money for this bill everything will be okay!” It’s my job as a missionary to explain they are focusing all their attention on symptoms while ignoring the major disease.

A few nights ago a friend came by to visit, and we started talking about some struggles in his life. He told me the goal right now was to finish one last project, and then go overseas with family for a while. With love in my voice I said “but your problem will still be there.” He could get on a plane and leave SVG, but the spiritual need in his heart will leave SVG with him.

Often dealing with the disease means coming back to the real problem of their heart like I did a few nights ago. The Devil wants individuals to focus on symptoms or something that they “can handle” promising fulfillment once that goal is reached. So with an open Bible and words of wisdom, we must shine the light upon their real disease.

Of course it goes the other way as well! As Christians we can deal with the symptoms of a heart that has turned away from the Lord. Like with my cold these attempts can bring temporary relief, but there is no healing till we repent of our diseased sin-nature, and seek the restoration of Christ.

The Gospel brings hope to those who are lost in sin. But first they must admit what the real problem is, and stop trying to fix the symptoms of their disease.

A Closed, and Open Door of Ministry

Last week I was visiting with some children when their father pulled me aside. He explained that the kids absolutely loved my Bible studies, and asked if it was possible to help them in another way. Two of them were in desperate need for extra help with school, specifically their reading.

In that moment I knew the Lord wanted me to make a change from discipleship studies to a reading help ministry

Many of the young people here are in need of tutoring and practice with their basic language skills. Sadly they cannot receive this personalized help in school because the classrooms are so large, and some cannot get it at home since their parents struggle reading as well.

Before Covid the Lord allowed me to volunteer for a few years with reading groups once or twice a week at local schools. It was amazing to see how much these groups of boys grew as we practiced phonics, learned sight words, and practiced reading.

I can remember one boy was VERY shy about his reading but over time grew more and more confident with practice. One Monday morning he finished reading from a book, and the other boys all on their own applauded. I wish you could have seen the huge smile on his face!

The conversation with that father along with prayer has re-ignited the passion in my heart to help children with reading.

But that means a big change must take place

Currently I do Bible clubs with three groups of children in the community. This reading program calls for me to deal with only two or three kids who have special needs instead of larger groups. Of course this also means switching to an emphasis on phonics instead of Scripture.

It would be easy to just keep doing what I’m doing…….

but in ministry you need to find what works

Not all ministry activities are blessed by God! The Lord will often open, and close doors of ministry as he sees fit. When this happens the temptation is to fight the plan of God and continue doing what we are comfortable with, yet this won’t be blessed by God. Instead we must be willing to let go of the ministries that the Lord is closing the door to, and embrace the new opporutnities.

It is difficult to step away from something already established for a new ministry

But meeting a genuine need in the community is better than just doing the same thing

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