Isn’t it funny how we define success? Often times we make our schedules and are just so certain we need to accomplish certain things or see certain people that if our agenda does not work out as we originally intended, we are discouraged and our goals or objectives were not met. Take today for example:
Don and I went to the Nationwide Arena to meet with one of the players. As it ended up, that player was not able to meet with us today so it was a wasted trip, right? Well, maybe not a wasted trip after all. Is it a wasted trip if we have significant conversations with three security officers we have been building relationships with for quite some time? One officer is having significant health issues and we pray with her nearly every time we go. We have met and prayed for her husband who was out of work and God answered prayer by supplying a job, right there at the arena. To God be the glory! I wonder if it was wasted as we handed out copies of Cedarville Universities latest magazine that Jeff Beste gave us plenty of copies to hand out since there was a significant article written about one of my ministry partners, Don Callan, and his influence on others. We were handing them out like candy to people we work with and you should have seen their eyes light up! Yes, even the TV commentators with whom we have built relationships, were appreciative and very interested in the article and the man behind the article. Yep, the assistant coach who is a believer said he would read it to put himself to sleep tonight (his way of saying, “I love you guys”).
I wonder if our agenda is always God’s agenda. This I know, all these people were not on our agenda but it seems to be God has a way of directing our paths in ways we cannot plan. The secret is, I like God’s agenda better than my own agenda anyway. It is a lot more fun.
Is it not ingrained into every individual the desire to make a difference in this world? It may not be the up front, standing in front of people with words that provoke action or illicit the emotions of being awed and inspired – although it may. It may be the person that finds great satisfaction knowing that because he or she is standing behind a drill press 10 hours a day, or sitting behind the wheel of a tractor or combine on a 400 acre farm or in a cubical crunching numbers or pounding out phone calls just has the pleasure knowing that what they are doing is making a difference in the world one task at a time. We were created to have purpose, drive and to know that what we do in this life has the purpose of making this world operate well.
Last week, I had the good pleasure of being on both ends of the spectrum. That is, I tried to be as faithful as one could be by standing in front of a team of football players (along with two others) and share with them the most important message that could possibly be told – the good news that God gave us a gift of eternal life if we accept Jesus as our Lord. Many received that message with open arms and willing hearts. But you know, even if they hadn’t God still would have given me the satisfaction in knowing that what we did made a difference because we were simply being faithful. It was a true pleasure just to be faithful to my heavenly Father. I will admit though that seeing results is rather uplifting to the inner spirits too.
Then to be able to speak to a group of men in Illinois at a State wide Men’s Retreat with people coming from as far north as Chicago and as far South as Ferguson, MS and share with them also the depths of scripture and hear from so many how moved they were also brought a good sense of satisfaction.
Next the tables were turned as I went further north to the place I still refer to as home. I was able to speak at the church where I grew up, from 5th grade on, and although I was speaking to them… it was only because they had already spoken to me. I stayed with long time friends Dan and JoAnne in their wonderful home and they fed me my favorite pizza and the worlds best fresh salsa. It was Dan though who took an interest in me as a teen and he spent so many hours at our house after he accepted Christ as a young adult. He was just with me and took me places and he just knew how to be a good friend. Next I went to church where through the door walked person after person who had built into my life as a young boy/man. It is humbling to say the least to watch those you so admire listen to the stories of how God has used me and is using me but to know they “know” the little kid I used to be. They know my faults and mishaps as a young person. They are my Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders. They are the ones I wanted to emulate and be like when I grew up.
Making a difference is the thing God has created us to do. Make it a practice to see who is in your sphere of influence and who you have the ability to make a difference in their lives. Also though, look around and take inventory of who is having an influence upon you. If you are like me, you might desire to slip a little “thank you” to them and let them know of the difference they are making in this world and most importantly, you.
After travelling to Geneseo Illinois yesterday, I now prepare to speak at the two places that have been most influential in my life, especially as a teenager. God use the people of Faith Baptist Church, my home church from 5th grade through high school, to befriend me, teach into me, encourage me and help me grow into the man I am today. He also used another place to mold me and that place was Camp Manitoumi. Today I travel down to camp to speak from the same platform that I heard so many other Godly men speak from as a young person. I am humbled and privileged to return to the place of so many childhood and young adult memories, experiences and the place where God grabbed my life and where I released everything I am and have to Him. I am truly looking forward to this short adventure and ask that God uses me in others lives that same way He used others in my life. Let’s roll!!
Well, so many have been praying for this week with the football team and the potential spiritual impact that would be made. This is the update and what God has been doing today and most specifically this evening.
We just finished evening chapel and after the stirring of the Spirit among so many last evening and having been a little nervous about if we had gone to far to fast, God has listened to the prayers of his people. I was able to tell the gospel from the beginning looking back to Genesis 3 and bringing it full circle with closure in the book of Romans and most specifically chapter 10. The Lord stirred in several hearts and minds and we praise the Lord for the six young men that followed us out of the chapel and after further explanation from Ralph Lewis, they were waiting with expectant hearts to give their lives to Jesus Christ. You have to know that we don’t do any emotional build up. There is no music. There is no yelling and hollering but rather just a flat out, straight up presentation of the gospel telling of the consequences of sin and the free gift of heaven. We just ask if any are willing to man up and make the call and stand in front of their peers. Praise the Lord for the six that made a public profession of faith and please continue to pray. Please pray for these men but also pray for others whose curiosity has been peeked and for other conversations that took place, are taking place and will be taking place in the future that others would also have a sincere desire to give their lives to Christ also. God bless from Scioto Hill and we head home late tomorrow morning. As they say down here; “To God be the Glory!”
“The Buzz” is the popper words used to describe last evening and into today. After I finished posting on the blog last night, one young man who was rather agitated with some of the things we spoke about last evening came walking through the door (after he was to be in his cabin). I asked him to pull up a seat and said it was rather obvious I had said something that did not sit well with him and I wondered what it was. Without going into detailed explanation here, let’s just say it was a God moment that we ran into each other. While he has not given his life to the Lord and in fact is a long way from that point, he apologized to me for his actions and attitude. With our culture in America today, many believe some things we say seem racist or come from a heart that desires to divide. When they find that we actually care about them, there is a confusion that takes place because they have to process it. To prove the point, one of the camp staff named Rebeckah pulled me aside after our chapel and said a young man come up to the chow window as if to get seconds. He said, “I’m really not here for seconds but I want to ask you a question. Why are you so nice to us?” Her answer was, “Because we care about you and desire the best for you.” He said that just didn’t make sense but he wanted to let them know he appreciated them being so nice.
You see, we have taken them from the surroundings and culture they know and things are being reworked in their minds. They have a lot to learn about football but they have a lot to learn about the realities of life and they are truly learning about the truths of God’s Word. We heard from the head athletic trainer this morning that she was with her staff and two assistant coaches discussing for two hours what we covered last night in chapel. She spoke with one young man who confesses he has ‘opened his mind’ and no longer believes in religion or God or that there is one single way to life after death here on earth. (I spoke with him also last night).
So there is a buzz taking place in the Hills of Scioto. It is not locusts or bees or birds… it is of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of so many who have either very little understanding or extremely messed up understanding. Tonight we lay the gospel out plain and simple and would you be praying with us at about 6:30 to 7:00 pm and ask God that His Word would be sharper than a two edged sword and penetrate the hearts of these young men? The enemy is not happy and the battle is waging and it can almost be felt. Now we need the saints to pray. I will follow up and let you know of any happenings this evening…
All for One and One for all,