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NEVER Stop Growing!!!

Recently I began to read some books that brought a great conviction to my life.

Not because I was sinful…..

But because I could do better.

Last month I went through again “Christ Centered Preaching” by Bryan Chapell, and it greatly challenged me to preach “redemptive sermons” instead of sermons based on works. Currently I am going through “The Seven Laws of the Learner” by Bruce Wilkinson, and am INCREDIBLY CHALLENGED by the thought that teaching’s goal is to help the students understand instead of cover the material.

The interesting thing is, there’s nothing wrong with my preaching or teaching skills. Honestly these are my strengths in ministry! But I want them to become stronger.

The interesting thing is that speaking being a strength actually became a weakness in my ministry! I emphasized growth in other (weaker) areas and became somewhat complacent, EVEN LAZY in my preaching and teaching!

And accepting good speaking skills instead of great ones was a dishonor to the Lord.

Missions has taught me that even the strongest skills will weaken over time when we stop developing them. In the same way a sword grows dull over time and needs sharpening, skills, our abilities need to be “sharpened” from time to time.

So we NEVER stop growing!!!!

This doesn’t give the idea of explosive growth, but slow consistent growth

  1. By growing in our knowledge of the subject through books, and podcasts
  2. By constantly evaluating our effectiveness
  3. By continually making changes to the process
  4. And by making effectiveness the goal (doing our VERY BEST)

Satan doesn’t try to make us completely rebellious friends (he’s far too smart for that)……

Instead he tries to make us complacent and lazy by saying we’ve done enough.

He wants us to go to war with a dull sword.

The Lord wants us to continually grow in every area of life through study, personal development, and walking in the Spirit. This way when the day of battle comes, we don’t have a dull sword in our hands.

Grace for Wasted Days

Last week wasn’t a very good one….

I made the foolish decision to indulge in jelly beans and Oreos friends sent over. This resulted in headaches, and lack of energy Monday along with Wednesday. A pretty ineffective week when lots didn’t get done because of my mistake had me feeling pretty blue on the way home.

That’s when I saw the sky.

The sunsets here in Saint Vincent are almost always spectacular. Most nights I can turn towards the sea about 6:15 and see a picture of breathtaking beauty, But there was something special about Fridays sunset, it was somehow extra spectacular.

That beauty of that sunset wasn’t just physical though….

it was in the message it conveyed.

Part of me wanted to sit down at 7:00 Friday night and desperately try to catch up on all of the things that I didn’t get done. But that sunset was Gods way of saying “rest now John, there will be time to work tomorrow.”

The beauty of the Gospel isn’t that we are perfect, but that there’s grace for each new day

Christ comes to offer us not only Salvation, but cleansing and restoration when we fail. Therefore when we fall (and we will) the response shouldn’t be to try harder! Instead the response is to repent saying we CAN’T DO THE WORK, and beg Christ to do the work through us!

It’s interesting that Satan tries to get us to do the exact opposite

When we fail he fills our hearts with shame, and tells us to “try harder” instead of relying upon God for help. This creates a vicious cycle since we cannot serve God in our own power. A cycle that blinds us to God’s grace.

So walking home Friday I confessed to the Lord that laziness and lack of motivation had creeped in since I’d eaten too much junk food. I asked Him to forgive me of that laziness by His grace, and empower me to stay focused instead of distracted. I thanked the Lord that effectiveness wasn’t based on how hard I worked, but how close I was to Him.

Yesterday (Saturday since I wrote this Sunday) was a VERY productive day without junk food (a few handfuls of jelly beans last night).

It felt good to be back on track

But it felt better to know that God gives grace when I am off track.

Stop Eating Junk Food!

A little over a week ago, I received a shipment of Bibles from my home church Salem Baptist. Along with those Bibles they sent my FAVORITE treats, starburst jelly beans, and birthday-cake oreos!

The plan was to eat just a few of them at a time….

But that didn’t happen 🙂

In just over a week, I’ve crushed almost an entire large container of jelly beans one handful at a time, and polished off two large packs of Oreos. Part of this is due to the face that I don’t usually have things like this, and partly because they are irresistible.

I indulged in that junk food thinking it wasn’t a big problem (I’ll lose the weight after all)

But I was wrong.

I woke up Monday morning with a splitting headache, and didn’t feel like myself almost all day. Tuesday was better, but I spent most of Wednesday feeling exhausted and lacking energy. All of those extra sweets had resulted in a “sugar spike” that affected me physically till Thursday.

Realizing the source of the problem, I’ve stayed away from the sweets for the most part since Wednesday (Okay I did indulge in some jelly beans at night).

The Lord has reminded me through this experience that you cannot eat junk, and expect to be effective

This message can also be applied to the food that we fill our minds, and hearts with.

You cannot expect to serve the Lord at 100% while feasting on

  1. The worlds entertainment
  2. Music that heightens our emotions, but doesn’t draw us closer to God
  3. A lifestyle of comfort, or rest
  4. or compromised convictions

Things like this FEEL GOOD at the moment, just like jelly beans and birthday cake Oreos! But filling your heart and mind with the worlds junk food will not bring happiness.

So what is the answer?

Feast on Christ!

  1. Study and meditate upon Scripture
  2. Pray constantly
  3. Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness
  4. And surround yourself with Godly friends

There is nothing wrong with an occasional handful of jelly-beans

But they cannot constitute your diet.

In the same way may we reject the worlds junk food, and feast on Christ.

A Ministry of Big-Print Bibles

The Lord has allowed me to plant the seeds of the Gospel in many hearts through tract distribution over the last five years. This ministry brings me great joy, but there is also a burden to go deeper.

Part of evangelism is sowing the Gospel near and far…

But it also involves entering into a deeper outreach with those whose hearts are tender

The Lord has opened the door for me to begin Bible studies with friends (a number of them unsaved) where we meet one morning, and then read through a passage of Scripture. I’ve seen the Lord greatly use these studies as it gives opportunities for them to ask questions, and more detailed explanation of Scripture.

One of the things holding back these studies was the lack of quality big print Bibles in SVG. Most individuals here have severe cataracts or other eye problems, so reading fine-print Bibles are extremely hard. Adding to the problem is you cannot find many big print Bibles here, and those that can be found are very expensive.

A few months ago I asked friends to send money to purchase twenty big-print Bibles that would then be used to start bible studies in the community. The Lord responded in a way I couldn’t even imagine!

A friend from my home church Salem Baptist contacted me about helping raise some money for the Bibles they could send. After a while they realized they had put the old pew Bibles (they’ve been replaced) in storage. So with the churches permission she sent twenty-five big print Bibles at no cost for me!

I am overwhelmed by the generosity and love of Salem Baptist Church in meeting this need!

Please pray for me as I begin meeting these individuals to deliver their Bibles. Pray the Lord would allow us to meet together during the week, and through the reading of His Word, they may be led to Christ,

Missions is Killing the Chicks

Picture from https://thefarmingfoodie.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-raising-baby-chicks/

There is a hen in the community who has taken a liking to my backyard. She will lay her eggs secretly, and suddenly one morning I’ll see six our eight chicks following her around.

Now I love all animals….

but those chicks have to die!

The reason why is their mother ravages the backyard finding food for them

  1. Ripping up tomato plants
  2. Destroying flowers
  3. Digging massive holes in the yard
  4. And biting into the mangoes that fall from my tree, and are given to people in the community

That last part for me is the most frustrating because there are people who don’t have much food, and really enjoy the mangoes I give to them. But the mother hen would destroy every one the moment it hit the ground!

So last week I finally decided to do something about the chicks. After putting a leash on my trusty guard dog Vincy I let him loose in the backyard for some “chick hunting.” There is actually one chick left, but I’m pretty sure mama has left him, so he gets a reprieve for now.

I realize letting my dog kill those baby chicks may seem barbaric….but the damage they were doing to my property made it necessary.

There is a good correlation between those chicks and my sin-nature.

Often a sin may seem “small and unimportant.” It may even seem cute! But that small sin will do incredible amounts of damage to my Christian life and testimony. Over time it will grow bigger and multiply itself. Soon the whole backyard will be filled with destructive chickens!

It is far better to do the hard work of putting that sin to death as Romans 6 tells us through the power of the Spirit.

I am grateful for this visual reminder that sometimes the most gracious thing I can do for my sin is kill it

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