A week ago, my wife and I had dinner with some friends of ours who are about to move to London. I saw an email today from one of our WMA Associate Missionaries who was unable to go back to Africa at the moment because of health issues (please pray for her complete healing). I saw another update from a couple of our WMA Associate Missionaries who have come home to the U.S. from Thailand and are waiting and praying here for an open door to London, where they feel called to go next. I’ve spoken to other friends who seem to be on the cusp of a change. Things are always changing of course, but right now seems to be a time of transition for individuals, organizations, and even the world at large. As you and I go about our lives, let us remember that our future is in God’s hands. He establishes our steps. Ephesians says, that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” May you be filled with the joy of the Lord, trusting that He holds our future in the palm of His hand. -Chad
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. -1 Corinthians 5:17
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… -Romans 12:2a
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. -1 Corinthians 9:27
It’s funny how sometimes you can hear something you’ve heard a million times over the course of your life, but one day it just “clicks” with you. Or more likely, the Holy Spirit, illuminates, and hits it home for you. I was in church a couple of weeks ago and my pastor preached a sermon entitled “Strength and Struggles” and a light bulb went off for me.
How many of us have found ourselves in a Christian walk struggling with some sin or the other? Or maybe you have some other pattern of anger or pride and you just can’t seem to shake it? If you are born again you are a new creation. You are not the same. You did nothing to earn it. God has made your spirit new. Yet, the struggle remains. How can this be? If you’re anything like me, the struggle can go from a nuisance to, in some cases, an all out crisis of faith. How can I struggle like this when I am a Christian? I shouldn't have these thoughts, etc. The inner monologue wages war against yourself and it’s so easy to get discouraged. Like a newly adopted child who doesn’t understand the ways of their new family, so we, though we have been adopted into the Family of God, can still walk in the ways of our former family of darkness.
Something my pastor said that Sunday really helped me. Yes, our spirits are new. We are born again. We are new creations. BUT…our minds must be continually renewed and our bodies must be disciplined. We may be a new creation, but if we consistently feed ourselves things that nourish the flesh, how can we hope to walk in the Power of the Holy Spirit?
This is not a legalistic message. This is not a condemning message. If you are in Christ, you are adopted. You are part of new family. Be encouraged, you must fight the good fight. You must renew your mind daily. You must discipline your body. We are all in the same boat. There are no SUPER Christians who this somehow magically comes easy to. The Holy Spirit will help us if we but ask. We are not in competition with other believers to earn the approval of God. We have His approval through Jesus Christ. We are adopted. We are in the family. Be encouraged today.
I'm sure many of you have heard or read about a couple of key influencers in the Body of Christ who have very publicly walked away from their faith. What in the world is happening? It’s one thing to have a crisis of faith where doubt and unbelief threaten our well-being, we’ve all experienced moments like that, but why try to gain followers on your road of dissipation?
How does this happen? I know back in the ‘olden’ days there was a consistent moral message, or compass if you will, that was affirmed in the home, school, and church. Not so today and not so for the last 20-30 years. Today, the messages from home, school, and church vary dramatically concerning right and wrong and what was once clear is now mired in ambiguity.
We must train and influence our children and our children’s children that there is clearly a right way and a wrong way and only a moral and spiritual compass can keep them and us headed in the right direction.
I know there are theological points of contention within the Body of Christ; there was in the early church and there is now. I am in no way minimizing the importance of sound theology but I am saying there must be some non-negotiable moorings in a person’s life that are not affected by theological musings. Those foundational truths are what will keep you when the wind is howling and the waves are crashing against your faith. Your ship may get wrecked and run aground but what you are holding on to, as the waves carry you to shore, are those non-negotiable truths.
I’ll give you two, there are many more, but trust me, these two are life-stabilizers:
1) Jesus is the only way - “Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
2) The Bible is the source of truth - “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8
We must value truth over feelings, and value truth over our emotions…the Gospel does not need to be adjusted to fit current culture!
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14
Keep your compass with you at all times. -Susan
"The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank." -G.K. Chesterton
Many years ago I attended a big megachurch in the Dallas area. One thing that stood out to me every Sunday was how thankful everyone was who spoke from the pulpit, especially the pastor. Of course, I grew up in church, and had heard plenty of people thanking God for many things. My parents always had a spirit of gratitude and did their best to instill the same in me. But, the way this church was, well, like I said, it stood out to me. I hadn’t really heard thankfulness like this before. The pastor would stand up and thank God that he got out of bed that morning. He thanked Him that he could walk, talk, that he was in his right mind, etc. Seeing that type of thankfulness made an impact on me.
I’ve been complaining a lot lately. I don’t have anything to complain about, and yet, being the weak human that I am, I do it anyway. It seems like we live in a world full of complainers. Just go do a quick Google search of your favorite neighborhood restaurant and you will see plenty of people willing to air their grievances with the world. A few minutes scrolling through Twitter is enough to make anyone depressed. Shouldn’t we be different?
Shouldn’t we be marked by how thankful we are? Comparison is the poison of thankfulness. We have our daily bread, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads (so many people we meet overseas can’t say the same), but our neighbor down the street has magical organic bread from Whole Foods, a sweater from Neiman Marcus, and a roof with a little more square footage under it than we have. But today I’m thankful. I’m thankful for life. I’m thankful for health. I’m thankful I can walk. I’m thankful I can breathe without a machine. I’m thankful that I can see. I’m thankful that God didn’t leave me where I was, sinking in the mud of my own sin.
Praise the Lord. Thank Him. I don’t want a rock to take my place.
I know, if you’re anything like me, you are relieved as this long, cold, winter season comes to an end; to wake up to sunshine is an immediate mood boost.
Spring is always the season for new things, new beginnings and resurrection. There is an optimistic feeling in the air and a sense of renewed hope infuses our thoughts. However, there are many concerns as we look at the state of our current culture with the political, educational, media, and social issues being at the forefront of all news.
If we didn’t know better, we could get discouraged! But, there is good news, thousands of years old, still so relevant and life giving to us today. Read aloud Isaiah 45.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things…
Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ … It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts…For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other…I the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right. Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save…
Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’”
We do know better…be encouraged!
I’m not sure why exactly, but recently, I have developed a deep curiosity and interest in climbing Mount Everest. Don’t misunderstand me, I won’t personally be climbing it any time soon. I don’t really like heights that much. I have been watching a lot of documentaries about people who do climb or attempt to climb that great mountain and living vicariously through them. These people spend anywhere from $30k to $100k to risk their lives to scale this mountain. Like anyone, I always knew attempting to climb Everest was a dangerous feat, but I didn’t fully grasp the enormity of the danger. At certain altitudes, altitude sickness is very likely, and it’s a pretty scary thing…like brain swelling, hallucinating, could die any moment from a heart attack or stroke type of thing. Why do these people do this? Is it ego? Is it some innate drive to test their personal limits? Is it bragging rights? Maybe all of the above…all this risk, all this cost, so many lives lost…to climb a mountain. I think attempting and achieving what was once “impossible” is amazing, virtuous even, but…
It is amazing to see the cost and risk so many people are willing to incur for the sake of an earthly accomplishment. We, as Christians, are pursing an eternal goal. Are we willing to pay the price? Are we willing to risk our own lives even? Are we risking everything for an earthly reward that will simply burn up in the end, or are we risking everything for a work that will bear eternal rewards? What are you climbing?
I know we are all alarmed at the happenings in our world. There is an all-out assault on are beliefs and sensibilities. What we once thought impossible is being played out on our daily news feed. The attack on Christianity is at an all-time high for this generation. It used to be that the railing against us was that they didn’t believe what we proclaimed…. now, the attack is even more diabolic. Now it is not ‘what’ we say, but we don’t have the ‘right’ to say it. That, my friend, is a shift of monumental importance. The feelings of defeat taunt while we do our best to keep our heads up. Be encouraged my fellow traveler, God will have the final word!
I can reflect on trials from years gone by and I am reminded of the rescuing hand of God moving among the broken places of our world. We might think what is happening today is new, but it is not. While a particular battle may be new the overall theme of warfare is not. The enemy always goes too far. Case in point, the devil thought crucifying Jesus was a good idea!
We must fight the battles as they come without fear or trembling, always reminding ourselves that Jesus referred to us, His disciples, as salt and light representing preservation and enlightenment.
Our influence as Christians cannot be stopped. You can’t stop salt from being salty nor can you stop light from lighting the way!
Look at the words of King Jehoshaphat as he and his army were facing a great battle. “…This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s.” (emphasis mine)
We’re not going to draw back or go underground, we’re pressing ahead, influencing our nation and the nations of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The other day, I was reading about William Wilberforce, the great British politician who went against the social norms of his day to ﬁght against the slave trade and other oppressive atrocities such as child labor. Eric Metaxas, in his book, 7 Men, writes concerning Wilberforce:
How God used [him] to change the world is almost unbelievable. One man who gave his talents and time and energies to God’s purposes was able to do so much. But we who admire him shouldn’t compare ourselves to him directly. We should rather ask ourselves: Am I using what God has given me for his purposes? Do I have a relationship with him so that I know he is leading me? Am I obeying him in all areas of my life—or trying to do so—so that I can know I am in a real relationship with him? It was in honestly asking and answering these few questions that lay at the heart of the greatness of the great William Wilberforce.
In a time when everyone will be focused on so many resolutions. When Christians will start again at Genesis 1, trying to ﬁnally read through the Bible in a year as they have been promising themselves they would do for the past 10 years. When workout facilities will be ﬁlled with fresh faces, eager to ﬁnally get in shape. When people will be comparing themselves with each other. This year, 2019, what if we break through all the noise and ask ourselves these questions:
1) Am I using what God has given me for His purposes?
2) Do I have a relationship with Him so that I know He is leading me?
3) Am I obeying Him in all areas of my life—or trying to do so—so that I can know I am in a real relationship with Him?
Thank you for standing with us in 2018 and I pray for your continued support as we impact the nations with the Good News! We look forward to 2019 with great excitement for what God will do in and through all of you.
Blessings from the WMA Team. ~ Chad
I was texting with a long-time friend the other day and he said something that I have been pondering. He said that his observation was that there is Christianity fatigue sucking the life out of people. What in the world does that mean, I thought. But as I began to mull over and reﬂect on the conversations of late with other leaders, family, friends, and students, I can say without hesitation that there does seem to be a fatigue that is trying to stymie Christians in their walk with the Lord as never before.
People are tired, Christians are tired…why? Could it be that we have been trying so hard to ‘do’ the Christian life that we are missing out on the joy of just ‘living’ the gift of a redeemed life?
Everywhere we turn there are valid messages on goals, accomplishments, vision, chasing His purpose etc. I’ve preached all of these! They are all truth! But our fatigue causes a sense of guilt for lack of accomplishments in these areas and the cycle of disappointment, defeat, and weariness persists.
God cannot bless the person we pretend to be…talk about exhausting.
There is absolutely a place of rest and refreshing that I believe the Lord is calling us to…it’s called the secret place. He doesn’t say a lot about it, but it is a place of renewal.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will ﬁnd refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that ﬂies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…” Psalm 91
Find your secret place of rest and let Him bring renewal to your fatigued spirit, soul and body.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28
There’s an old saying that goes something like, “some people can’t see the forest for the trees.” That is to say, if you focus too much on the thing right in front of you, you can miss the bigger thing. We busy ourselves with our day to day lives, so focused on this problem or that that maybe we are overlooking the bigger thing God is doing. There’s a reason Jesus told us not to worry about our everyday lives…because we all have a tendency to do just that.
Take the picture above, for example. Most of us look at that picture and see a ﬂag blowing in the wind. But think, for a moment, about all the individual threads sewn together that make up the ﬂag. It’s a wonder isn’t it, that all those individual, seemingly insigniﬁcant, strands can be put together in such a way as to make a symbol of freedom, which has stood strong in spite of adversity; so many strands, weak on their own, but beautiful and strong when put together by a master seamstress.
God promises us in His word that He will work all things together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose. Do you worry about your life? Do you sometimes feel insigniﬁcant. Trust that the Master is making something strong and beautiful of your life…something more signiﬁcant than you can even imagine.